Dale MacKay: Top Chef Closes Vancouver Restaurants

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Dale MacKay on Top Chef Canada. MacKay has had to close his two Vancouver restaurants due to high rents. (Screengrab, Food Network) | Food Network

Vancouver is too expensive even for a Top Chef.

Dale MacKay, last year's winner of the Top Chef Canada title on the popular Food Network program, closed his Vancouver restaurants ensemble and ensemble Tap on Saturday, the Georgia Straight reported.

The reason is simple: rent is too damn high, having cost the Top Chef up to $40,000 monthly for both locations.

Even though expense played a significant role in MacKay's decision to close, he blames himself for locating downtown to begin with.

“I learned quickly that opening a restaurant in the heart of Vancouver is something I should have done after building my business and expansion capital in markets that support my restaurant business plan," he said in a news release.

"As it is in the Vancouver core, with the rents being so high and the market saturated with fabulous restaurants, I’d have to subsidize both operations far longer than makes good business sense.”

Restaurant consultant Richard Floody told the Vancouver Sun that 85 per cent of restaurants go under in the first two years.

“Vancouver has many, many wonderful restaurants. We have too many of them. You really have to know what you’re doing,” he said.

MacKay, a protege of celebrity British chef Gordon Ramsay, had worked with his staff for five years after taking over from chef Rob Feenie at the now-closed Lumiere restaurant.

ensemble Tap, which opened in December, was MacKay's 14th restaurant but the Top Chef said that Vancouver was by far the most difficult city in which to stay afloat, the Province reported.

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