Celebrity chef Paul Rankin is selling all but one of his eateries, it emerged last night.
The Ready Steady Cook star, who last year admitted off loading a string of cafe’s to ease financial difficulties, is now negotiating prices for his Roscoff Brasserie and the remainder of his Rankin cafe chain.
This latest move leaves Rankin, who received Northern Ireland’s first Michelin Star, with just Cayenne — his signature restaurant on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, which he owns with wife, Jeanne. His product endorsement and television work is also expected to continue.
It is understood sale negotiations for Rankin Cafés at Belfast International Airport, Castle Court, Fountain Street, Junction One and the Brasserie on Linenhall Street are in the final stages.
Last night a Rankin Group spokeswoman said a number of buyers were interested.
“The Rankin Group announced plans before the summer to consolidate its operations and attract investors into its non-core businesses in the café chain and brasserie operations. While a number of interested parties have come forward and there are on-going negotiations under way, it would be premature to comment.
“It is already appreciated that the organisation is undergoing radical consolidation following the corporate voluntary arrangement entered into over 18 months ago in relation to the café chain, which has been significantly downsized to meet the industry-wide downturn in trade.
“The directors of the Roscoff Ltd and FF Associates, which include Paul and Jeanne Rankin, are working with professional advisors and the interested parties to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all the stakeholders.”
In 2006, the chef announced he was selling three Rankin Cafes and his Rain City restaurant on Belfast’s Malone Road.
In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph last year, Paul Rankin admitted he had experienced problems after expanding his business too fast.
At one point he was juggling the management of the restaurants, cafe chain and Rankin Selection brand with his television work.
He said: “Problems arose in the business when we tried to expand too quickly and, as a result, we started losing a little bit of control.
“Selling off the cafés and Rain City readdressed that from a focus point of view. People expect a lot from a Rankin restaurant. Expectations are high and I do not think we were delivering consistently.
“And we did make mistakes. We should have raised the money and had a stronger business team before we began expanding with our own money. We just did not have the financial kitty.
“Also, looking back, I'm not sure if my heart and soul was really in it. I'm not an out-and-out businessman. My passion is cooking.”