Fears were mounting this weekend that Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa chain is on the brink of collapse, in what would be another blow to the celebrity chef's embattled restaurant empire
It is understood that costs have run out of control at the business leaving bosses unable to meet a big rent bill and other liabilities
The steak restaurants are expected to plunge into administration this week, just days after a last-ditch rescue plan to save his Jamie’s Italian chain from going under.
The possible failure of Barbecoa, which could emerge as soon as Monday, would wipe another 160 jobs from the Jamie Oliver empire in addition to the 450 being culled following the closure of 13 Jamie’s Italian sites as part of a company voluntary agreement (CVA).
If Barbecoa goes into the administration, the process is expected to be handled by Alix Partners, which has also been overseeing the restructuring of Jamie’s Italian.
A spokesman for the Jamie Oliver group said that the group has instructed a firm of real estate experts to ascertain the potential value and market suitability of the two Barbecoa sites. However, it is understood that there have been no firm offers to buy them.
The battle to save his debt-riddled Jamie’s Italian eateries has required its creditors to agree to slash its rent bill from sites which are still able to make money, and shut those which don’t.
The 18 best performing restaurants will continue to pay full rent but will move to doing so on a monthly rather than quarterly basis. A second group of 11 will take a rent cut of 30pc.
The third band of 13 landlords will see their payments cut by 75pc while they wind down their operations before closing entirely.
According to reports the TV chef, estimated to be worth around £150m, put £3m of his own money into the business in addition to a loan from another business arm of £6.5m but the cash injections were not enough to save the business.
Court documents related to the agreement laid bare the full financial pain suffered by the chain which is shackled with debts of £71.5m.
The debts include £2.2m which is owed to staff of the billionaire foodie as well as overdrafts and loans totalling £30.2m and £41.3m owed to other creditors including HMRC.