When the Harrogate Advertiser talked to celebrity Italian chef Gino D’Acampo this time last year on a tour round the workman-filled interior of his new Harrogate restaurant he did tell us he would beat the 'pucker' Essex boy fair and square.When rumours that Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Harrogate - just across the road from Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant on Parliament Street - was facing closure were confirmed earlier this week, many in the town were not surprised.Readers had been predicting the news for months.The only other person who might have been expecting it, too, was Gino, who hails from Naples.Talking to the Advertiser last March, Gino told us he knew he had a battle on his hands with Jamie in Harrogate but was confident there would be only one victor.
Gino said: “I don’t like to criticise people because everybody has their own quirky way to do things."It’s for the customers to decide which one is the real Italian restaurant and which one is a restaurant with an Italian name.“Everywhere we go we will see which one is busier, which one has better reviews and which one is more successful.Things had looked good for Jamie Oliver when his Harrogate restaurant first opened in 2014.But, after its initial successful launch, reports were mixed to say the least from readers on whether it was actually any good.Now it has becomeone of 12 outlets in Jamie's national chain set for closure in tough times - probably in March. Other branches being axed include Bristol, Kent, Chelmsford, Greenwich, Kingston, Milton Keynes, Piccadilly Diner, Reading, St Albans and Threadneedle Street in London. It's all part of a restructuring of Jamie’s Italian restaurant estate following reports that the chain was experiencing difficulties.Back in 2016, Oliver was forced to close six Jamie’s Italian restaurants with the brand’s parent Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group blaming a “tough market.” Jamie’s Italian franchises managed through Jamie’s Italian International will not be affected by the new closures. The Jamie Oliver Media Group and the Jamie Oliver Licensing Group are also unaffected. Jon Knight, CEO of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said: “This was a not an easy decision but it’s a crucial step to ensure our strong and much-loved brand can continue to serve our loyal customers. “We will look to redeploy as many staff as possible within the wider Restaurant Group. All staff impacted will be paid fully and all our obligations to them fulfilled. "We’re incredibly grateful to the dedication and hard work of every single member of staff.” So what now for Gino's on the other side of the road in Parliament Street? Will it carry on faring well? Will it stay the course where some other chains have failed in austerity Britain?Gino himself told the Advertiser last year he did love the town.He said: “I remember I was with my wife and I said “one day I’m going to open a restaurant here in Harrogate.” “Although people think this is yet another chain of restaurants, it’s really not. “I will be here a lot of the time like I am there a lot of the time at my other restaurants in Leeds, Manchester and London because otherwise you lose touch. “I’m a pain in the ass when it comes to the quality of food. "