Food & Drink

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine to close Nosh in greater Bluffton

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine's Nosh restaurant at Tanger Outlet Center 2 on Jan. 22, 2015. The eatery is scheduled to close Jan. 25. Irvine's other area restaurant, eat!, on Hilton Head closed in January 2014.
Celebrity chef Robert Irvine's Nosh restaurant at Tanger Outlet Center 2 on Jan. 22, 2015. The eatery is scheduled to close Jan. 25. Irvine's other area restaurant, eat!, on Hilton Head closed in January 2014. Staff photo

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"He coaches businesses and tells them if you want to be successful you have to be personally invested in the business. When you're not living here, and you're on the road 340 days a year, it's hard to do that."

- Irvine spokesman Dan McLean

Robert Irvine, the celebrity chef who rescues restaurants from failure on the Food Network, is shutting down his own eatery, Nosh, at Tanger Outlet Center 2 in greater Bluffton, a spokesman said Thursday.

Irvine was filming his television show "Restaurant: Impossible" at a pizzeria in Summerville on Thursday and was not available for comment, his spokesman Dan McLean said.

Nosh's last day of business will be Sunday. It's closure marks the end of Irvine's six years as a Lowcountry restaurant owner. His Hilton Head Island restaurant, Robert Irvine's Eat!, closed last year.

McLean said Nosh's closing has nothing to do with profits.

Instead, the British chef's increasingly busy schedule made it difficult for him to manage a restaurant, especially when he no longer lives on Hilton Head. The TV star sold his home on the island and lives full-time in Tampa, McLean said.

"He's too busy to be as personally involved as he wants to be," McLean said. "He coaches businesses and tells them if you want to be successful you have to be personally invested in the business. When you're not living here, and you're on the road 340 days a year, it's hard to do that."

Eat! was the chef's first restaurant when it opened in 2009. At the time, he told The Island Packet he hoped to open 30 similar restaurants across the country. He opened Nosh, his second restaurant, in January 2012.

But the concept never took hold.

Irvine blamed that on his "ridiculous and crazy schedule," according to an interview with The Island Packet at the Eat! closing party in January 2014.

"It's hard to grow a restaurant when you never have time to go visit it," said McLean. "His restaurants were successful, but they weren't as profitable as maybe they could have been ... just because he's not there. He felt he wasn't doing the restaurants the justice they deserved."

The former British Royal Navy cook divides his time among business appearances, television shoots and charity events. He has appeared on Food Network's "Dinner: Impossible," "Worst Cooks in America" and "The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs." When he's not filming, the brawny Brit promotes nutrition and exercise at schools and tours the country doing a live show that revolves around fitness and culinary demonstrations.

He's currently taping his 11th season of "Restaurant: Impossible," a hit show in which Irvine helps overhaul an ailing restaurant in 48 hours on a $10,000 budget.

Despite the closing of his restaurants, Irvine is "very much still qualified" to help struggling restaurateurs save their businesses, McLean said.

The spokesman pointed out, according to Irvine's figures, that about 70 percent of the 115 restaurants he's worked with are still open and "exceeding anything they had done prior to that."

"Whether or not he's ever owned a restaurant, that statistic alone shows he's capable of helping restaurants," McLean said.

Attempts Thursday to reach a spokesman for Food Network were unsuccessful.

When it comes to celebrity chefs who help failing restaurants, results for their own projects have been spotty.

For example, Gordon Ramsay, former star of Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares," closed high-end restaurants last year in New York City and Los Angeles, according to the New York Daily News.

Though Irvine's business ventures on Hilton Head are over, he has other restaurants in the works, McLean said.

Hewill open Fresh Kitchen, a grab-and-go restaurant, this year at the Pentagon. Other plans include eateries in Las Vegas and at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, the spokesman said.

A management company will run these locations, unlike Nosh and Eat!, which were run by Irvine, McLean said.

At Tanger, regional manager LaDonna Shamlou said "possibilities are being discussed" but no replacement for Nosh has been found. She said she couldn't comment on the restaurant's financial situation.

McLean said Irvine considers both Nosh and Eat! successes. Nosh holds a 4 out of 5-star Yelp rating based on 78 reviews.

"They were both profitable. They were both successful." he said. "It's just the time it took for him to manage the restaurant is something he wasn't able to do while he was focusing on his other passions."

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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