Ferrán Adriá has announced that he will be closing his El Bulli restaurant, considered by many to be the best restaurant in the world, to the public for two years. redefine and «reorganize how it will be after 2014». At a press conference during Madrid’s 8th Fusión International Gastronomy Summit, he assured that “we will work as hard as we can to keep Spanish cuisine up there” and “continue to create creativity”. Of course, Adriá has “no idea” about the format or the financing at the moment, says Adriá.
Does it have anything to do with the crisis? In the report we published in Emprendedores magazine, issue 149, Adriá flatly denies that he suffers: “We still cannot satisfy a small proportion of customers who want to come to El Bulli. In the six months that we are open, 8,000 people visit us. We could participate five times more.” But even with that data, it’s difficult to make a restaurant profitable in the high-high segment. El Bulli is not allowed to earn more than 60,000 or 70,000 euros with billings over four million. The solution adopted by many of our great chefs was the search for alternative lines of business: agreements with hotels, entry into other segments … And our most international chef is not only the quintessence of the Armani business model applied to luxury restaurants (a exclusive image serving as a hook for a group of secondary brands) but was the first to use it in Spain.
Protected by his unique media firepower, Adrià has amassed an enviable portfolio in recent years Image contracts and industrial collaboration contracts with Borges, Armand Basi or Damm, hotel management contracts (Hacienda Benazuza) or restaurants (La Terraza del Casino de Madrid) that have made it a benchmark for this new way of doing business outside the hearth. This is in addition to the conferences (he is one of Thinking Heads’ star speakers).
Even more extraordinary than all this is that Adrià was the first to venture into pure and simple fast food, what some call junk food. No local gastro or luxury tapas places. Opened and supervised by the NH, Fast Good Restaurants are, as the name suggests, no-compromise fast food; now, yes, endowed with the necessary quality (and price) that the dignity of the teacher demands. Their chicken dishes cost almost six euros and foam desserts 3.10.
Adrià’s own experience seems to have shown that it is not enough for a media chef to bless one of these chains for the idea to become a success. Fast food is a tough business and it’s not clear that the great chefs know about it. Fast Good has grown, but much more slowly than expected. So it didn’t serve Adrià as the expected large source of income. At the moment, Fast Good only has seven stores down the street (and one in Caja Navarra). Two were closed, one in Chile (due to logistical and market problems) and one in Madrid (due to the sale of the building). In fact, in recent months, Adrià has insisted on his intention to give up all activities outside of Bulli. Without going into the Fast Good, Adrià says: “I would like to spend more time in the kitchen, I like that”. For the time being he has already left the Hacienda Benazuza, the terrace of the Casino of Madrid and the catering.