Is there a Top Chef curse? The winner of last year's Top Chef: Canada, Dale Mackay, yesterday shuttered both of his Vancouver restaurants. According to the Vancouver Sun, the two restaurants — Ensemble and the more casual Ensemble Tap — were located in the city's downtown and lasted less than two years.
Mackay decided that shuttering the businesses was the the only option about four months ago. He attributes the failures to his inability to make it in an area of the city where rents were too high and the competition too seasoned. "I made classic restaurateur mistakes and I have to live with it," he told the Sun. He describes how Ensemble did well when it debuted but that after winning on Top Chef, he entered the follow-up, Tap, undercapitalized. Mackay wrote in a statement, ""If seasoned restaurateurs like Daniel Boulud find it unprofitable to compete in Vancouver, it was bold of me to think I could make the math work any better."
The article cites a restaurant consultant, Richard Floody, who throws in a few more negative factors: the inability to buy liquor wholesale and a recent increase in the minimum wage from $8 to $10.25. Mackay says that right now he's shifting his focus to consulting work and spending time with his son. Both restaurant websites remain live.