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Inside the Messy, Petty Feud That Closed One of the World’s Best Restaurants

Gaggan Anand tells his side of his feud with his investors.

Gaggan Anand Photo: courtesy Gaggan

In the next to last week of August, Gaggan Anand closed his world-renowned restaurant nearly a year before he had planned to walk away. At the time, he hinted at acrimony between him and his investors. Now, the chef has opened up about what went wrong at Gaggan, the restaurant that propelled him to culinary stardom.

Speaking with the restaurant industry insider newsletter Family Meal, the chef detailed his falling out with his investors, which led to him and his whole staff to walk away. According to Anand’s side of the story, mistrust had grown between him and his partners, the brothers Rajesh and Latesh Kewalramani (Robb Report has reached out to Rajesh for comment, but did not immediately respond to the request), between a failed deal in Dubai and Anand opening a steak restaurant without the brothers.

But that acrimony accelerated in the wake of this year’s LA Food Bowl. The brothers objected to some of Anand’s expenses for the event and soon after started going through the books at the restaurant and questioning employees, reportedly making two of them cry. “I felt like a cancer had gone where the trust with money had gone, and if that cancer has entered this restaurant, I can’t continue working here. Then I will be watched in everything I do,” Anand told Family Meal.

He gave the partners an ultimatum, asking them to reduce their shares to the point of not having a controlling stake or sell their interest to Anand outright. He then resigned as chef on July 23, two days after he made that offer. A few days later they were all in Singapore when Gaggan was named the No. 4-ranked restaurant at the World’s 50 Best gala. Those in the know would have seen the tension between them as the brothers didn’t stand with Anand when Gaggan was bestowed the highest ranking any restaurant in Asia had ever garnered.

In the wake of World’s 50 Best, the brothers thought they could possibly patch things up, but Anand remained committed to them losing their controlling stake in the restaurant. When Anand went public with his resignation, that only ramped up tensions, leading the brothers to install cameras in the restaurant. And the brothers allegedly met with the restaurant’s staff to offer them bonuses to stay at Gaggan so they could continue to operate even in Anand’s absence.

That only caused Anand to double down on his desire to start a restaurant of his own, the chef claimed. However, he found his partners—without his knowledge—had trademarked his name in 2013, so he wouldn’t be able to use it or the logo of the restaurant he made famous. He’s still pushing forward on his new restaurant plan, using the 65 staff members who quit in unity with him and effectively forced the early shutter of Gaggan.

On Instagram a few days ago, Anand gave a rough sketch of the new restaurant. It’ll be 40 seats total with seatings during four different time slots. The tasting menu will cost 8,000 Thai Baht ($264), and Anand says he’ll begin taking reservations soon, giving priority to people who had their reservations cancelled at the old restaurant because of its abrupt closure.

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