Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner to close on June 7
Having opened two café-style eateries in the past year, the once-unstoppable Jamie Kennedy will shutter one of his original haute-cuisine headquarters, Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner. Whispers were confirmed today in a letter from the Gardiner’s chef de cuisine, Scott Vivian. After being stationed there for two years, Vivian will serve up the restaurant’s last lunch to woebegone locavores on June 7.
The news may surprise the keen J.K. following, but there was no Cluck, Grunt and Low–style controversy around this closure. Vivian tells us that the announcement was made to staff two weeks ago and that Kennedy is doing his best to get displaced personnel absorbed around the city. When we talked shop with Kennedy at the Brewer’s Plate dinner in April, there was already a hint of apprehension in his voice. He harped on the new democratic dining culture central to the Wine Bar, as opposed to the outmoded fine-dining formula of the Gardiner. Rumours are already floating about that the chef’s midday spot, Hank’s, will evolve into an after-work drinking venue.
“I think there’s some restructuring going on in the company,” says Vivian, who confirms that the Gardiner was the weakest link in the Kennedy chain—it wasn’t making money anymore. Big bucks or bust, Vivian will miss the place and the “dysfunctional family bond” with his staff. The chef said in his official announcement, “I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for making [this place] so successful and the highlight of my culinary career.” Vivian, who’s taking time off to get married and honeymoon this summer, is considering his options. He’ll be cooking something up in Toronto soon—maybe even a venture of his own.
Vivian predicts that the Kennedy kingdom will remain strong, even without the Gardiner. Kennedy himself will continue to be the museum’s go-to gourmand for events and parties, but he will also be concentrating on expanding his broader catering business around the city (look for him at Distillery venues this summer) and on eat-local initiatives at the Gilead Café. As for future expansion, there’s no official word yet. But if the past year is any indication, there’s more moving and shaking yet to come from the curly-haired cook.