The COVID-19 pandemic put British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s growth plans on the back burner, like it did for many restaurateurs.
But now that Americans are eating out in droves again, Ramsay is cooking up his US expansion — one that features a new concept in Boston.
Gordon Ramsay North America has inked a deal to open its first Ramsay’s Kitchen, in a 7,000-square-foot spot in the Back Bay’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. The Boylston Street spot was previously occupied by Bar Boulud, which closed its Boston outpost in 2020 after six years because of the pandemic’s impact on sales.
Ramsay’s new restaurant will employ more than 160 people and have seating for more than 180 guests, with a bar and lounge, main dining room, two private dining areas, and a seasonal patio. It’s slated to open by the end of the year.
“I think it’s the perfect city to launch Ramsay’s Kitchen because Boston is a hidden gem when it comes to dining in America,” Ramsay said in an e-mail. “Everyone always looks at New York as the pinnacle for dining, but Boston has produced some incredible food and talent here.”
The ingredients for Ramsay’s US expansion were put in place in 2019 when private equity firm Lion Capital acquired a stake in the celebrity chef’s North American operation. At the time of the deal, Ramsey had eight US restaurants as part of a licensing agreement with Caesars Entertainment, in cities that include Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Baltimore. Now the venture has 10 restaurants in the United States, with two more planned for Orlando and downtown Chicago. Lion plans to invest $75 million over a five-year period as part of a plan for Ramsay and new North America chief executive Norman Abdallah to open 50 to 100 restaurants.
Ramsay said his US restaurants mainly focus on a dinner or lunch service with a particular style or signature food, with locations such as Gordon Ramsay Burger or Gordon Ramsay Steak. Ramsay, who is best known in this country for his cooking shows on the Fox network such as “Hell’s Kitchen,” said the Boston location marks the first time he will combine all his daytime dining components in the United States and feature them in a single location, though the Boston location will share DNA with his Bread Street Kitchen in London.
The pandemic, Ramsay said, put a pause on his expansion plans last year, and the company had to adjust to disruptions in its supply chains.
“But that said, we’ve come out on the other side and we’re definitely in a strong position now, if not stronger,” he said.
Ramsay said he is considering other restaurant locations in Boston and elsewhere in New England. He said he is itching to get back to the city to try food from the likes of chef Douglass Williams at MIDA, as well as SRV, the Italian restaurant in the South End, and Peruvian restaurant Celeste in Somerville. He said he fell in love with the Boston area when he visited roughly a decade ago to shoot his “Kitchen Nightmares” show. He also was impressed by the restaurant scene in Portland, Maine, when he traveled there last year while filming “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.”
He hinted that he may look at opening up a restaurant in Portland, saying “it’s the perfect place to bring more concepts to.”