A TOP North East chef has gone bankrupt – but says it won’t affect his award-winning restaurants.
David Kennedy, whose culinary skills are behind David Kennedy’s Food Social at the Biscuit Factory and David Kennedy’s River Cafe in North Shields, was declared bankrupt over a £28,500 debt to the taxman.
It means he can no longer run the company behind the restaurants which bear his name, instead working effectively as an employee.
But Mr Kennedy said his financial woes are “personal” and won’t affect the businesses, including a new restaurant near Matfen, Northumberland, due to open imminently.
The debt is understood to be related to his previous Black Door restaurant brand, but Mr Kennedy has taken personal responsibility for it and vowed to repay the money in full.
“This is a personal debt that has arisen from an action against me by HMRC relating to a previous business venture, namely the Black Door Group,” the chef, 42, said. “I have personally repaid £13,000 of the £28,500 I owed and I hope to reach an agreement with HMRC for repaying the remaining sum to resolve this once and for all.
“I feel I have acted responsibly, but I am the first to admit I have been naive.”
Because of the bankruptcy order, which was passed by Central London County Court, Mr Kennedy can no longer act as a company director.
A new company, DAK Restaurants – which was set up in February this year – has taken over the running of the restaurants, while Mr Kennedy has gone back to his roots in the kitchen.
Mr Kennedy said: “I have stepped away from running the David Kennedy brand and I am now working daily within their kitchens. I can guarantee there will be no job losses, only creation. I am confident that the David Kennedy brand will continue to evolve and develop.”
Robin Price, managing director of DAK, confirmed Mr Kennedy is “not a director of the company” but continues to “work within the business”.
Mr Kennedy hails from the West Country but lives in Newcastle with his wife Deborah and four children. He set up the Black Door restaurant on Clayton Street West in 2004, along with business partner David Ladd of Northern Intoxicology.
Previously, the chef had worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in London before heading north to join Terry Laybourne’s team at 21 Queen Street, and later The Apartment. Mr Kennedy was named North East Chef of the Year in 2007, as well as winning two AA rosettes, the UK award for excellence from the Hardens guide, county restaurant of the year from the Good Food Guide, and Metro restaurant of the year for the Black Door – which moved to bigger premises at the Biscuit Factory art gallery in Shieldfield.
Following the amicable parting of Mr Kennedy and Mr Ladd last February, the restaurant was renamed David Kennedy’s Food Social, while a Black Door branch in Morpeth closed down.
Last summer, Mr Kennedy opened David Kennedy’s River Café on North Shields Fish Quay with Paul Scott, whom he first worked with during his Terry Laybourne days, and Mr Scott’s partner Michelle Dickie. The restaurant achieved a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand after just 12 months of operation.
A new restaurant – David Kennedy’s at Vallum – is due to open imminently off the A69 at the Vallum Farm food hub in Northumberland, with the creation of up to 15 jobs.
Earlier this year, The Journal reported that the new venture would bring the number employed by the David Kennedy empire to more than 40, and was estimated to push annual gross turnover for the combined businesses to nearly £1.5m.