Momma Cherri: "I'm on the dole"

Momma Cherri :

Momma Cherri :"I'm on the dole"

First published in News by

Celebrity chef Momma Cherri is signing on the dole, she told The Argus.

The woman who shot to fame after appearing on Gordon Ramsay’s hit show Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares said she will have to claim unemployment benefit after finally shutting down her soul food restaurant for good.

The restaurant – Momma Cherri’s Big House, in Little East Street, Brighton – had been closed for several weeks after administrators moved in, told staff to leave and changed the locks.

Momma Cherri – real name Charita Jones – was pinning her hopes on a Brighton businessman stumping up the cash to buy the business out of administration.

But after waiting several weeks for the money she has taken the reluctant decision to close down permanently.

Mrs Jones said: “The Big House is out of my hands now and I no longer have to spend all my time figuring out how to keep it open.

“What I am doing now is sitting down, rethinking the whole project and trying to come up with another way of making this work.”

The past few weeks have been tough for Mrs Jones as she has felt ashamed at the collapse of the restaurant, which she originally opened in East Street in 2001.

She said: “At first I was feeling really guilty and was sitting indoors for a week because I did not want to be recognised.

“But there is nothing for me to be ashamed about.

I have been running this since 2001 and eight years is a long time when it comes to restaurants.

Aldo Zilli had a lot more money and he didn’t make it two years in Brighton.”

The Kitchen Nightmares episode starring Momma Cherri’s was one of the show’s most popular and led to Mrs Jones become a famous face in and around Brighton.

She says she is now recognised even when she goes abroad, with people saying hello in such diverse places as a Moroccan souk and in Paris while she waited for the Eurostar.

Mrs Jones said: “The only thing that hasn’t increased is my bank account.

I am probably the poorest celebrity out there but I feel rich in terms of what I have gained from the experience.

I would do it all over again.

I can hold my head up high and don’t think of myself as a failure.”

Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession.

She said: “It was the same problem we had when Ramsay first came to me.

I had a lot of staff I was loyal to and I did not want to make anyone unemployed.

But if we went weekendonly earlier we would not have been spending a thousand pound a month on gas and going deeper and deeper into debt.

It was complete déjà vu.”

Mrs Jones added: “Now I am going to sign on because I haven’t had a single bit of income for the last four weeks.

I don’t see it as a permanent situation because I am all about work and creating opportunities.”

She said she is confident the Momma Cherri brand is still strong and is writing her second cook book.

She is also looking to combine an outside catering business with a gospel choir she recently set up in order to offer the whole “soul food experience” to weddings and parties.

Opening another, smaller restaurant is also a possibility and Mrs Jones is even considering going takeaway-only.

She said: “Watch this space.

I am not disappearing.”

Mark Froud, the chief executive of Sussex Enterprise, the county’s chamber of commerce, said: “The closure of any well-known local business will obviously cause concern and have an impact.

It’s important to remember there are many successful businesses that have adapted to the economic situation and are doing well.”

Comments (18)

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1:46pm Fri 21 Aug 09

jonathon says...

Tell her to get a job.
Tell her to get a job. jonathon
  • Score: 0

2:55pm Fri 21 Aug 09

KennyKoala says...

It is not exactly fun for anyone to lose their job, their livelihood and their reputation, so have a bit of heart.

Better to be a has-been than a never-was.
It is not exactly fun for anyone to lose their job, their livelihood and their reputation, so have a bit of heart. Better to be a has-been than a never-was. KennyKoala
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Fri 21 Aug 09

scaffolder says...

perhaps if she got on with here job in stead of thinking she was a star then she mite have done better
perhaps if she got on with here job in stead of thinking she was a star then she mite have done better scaffolder
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Fri 21 Aug 09

wellsyuk says...

So she's got a book selling in the High St. shops whilst signing on.. Something to declare there perhaps?
So she's got a book selling in the High St. shops whilst signing on.. Something to declare there perhaps? wellsyuk
  • Score: 0

3:43pm Fri 21 Aug 09

BiggerH says...

"Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession."

ha ha
"Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession." ha ha BiggerH
  • Score: 0

5:03pm Fri 21 Aug 09

Pat Mustard says...

"I am probably the poorest celebrity out there"

Delusional as well as a poor business woman. She would fit right in on the next series of The Apprentice.
"I am probably the poorest celebrity out there" Delusional as well as a poor business woman. She would fit right in on the next series of The Apprentice. Pat Mustard
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Fri 21 Aug 09

gourmet jack says...

anyone who ever dined there knows why it failed !!!
anyone who ever dined there knows why it failed !!! gourmet jack
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Fri 21 Aug 09

snerper says...

Morrocan souk, Paris eurostar, recognised whenever she goes abroad? well, I wish I was that 'poor', I'd willingly forgo the 'star' status and recognision to be 'poor' enough to be as well travelled as she is!
Morrocan souk, Paris eurostar, recognised whenever she goes abroad? well, I wish I was that 'poor', I'd willingly forgo the 'star' status and recognision to be 'poor' enough to be as well travelled as she is! snerper
  • Score: 0

8:37pm Fri 21 Aug 09

a supplier says...

So she 'can hold her head up high and doesn't think she's a failure' ~ really? Ask some of the suppliers she stuffed up for thousands while visiting Moroccan Souks, Paris on the Eurostar etc... The woman is dangerously delusional. The pity is she will probably be permitted to do it all over again and rip many more people off yet.
So she 'can hold her head up high and doesn't think she's a failure' ~ really? Ask some of the suppliers she stuffed up for thousands while visiting Moroccan Souks, Paris on the Eurostar etc... The woman is dangerously delusional. The pity is she will probably be permitted to do it all over again and rip many more people off yet. a supplier
  • Score: 0

8:42pm Fri 21 Aug 09

mya says...

So Momma Cherri's signed on! Along with millions of other people who have lost their jobs, actually through no fault of their own (and don't feel the need to shameleesy publicise it either) such as her unfortunate staff who have all lost their livelihood as a result. Even worse Momma Cherri's and Co knew the adminstartors were going in and decided not to give any of their staff notice or an opportunity to look for new employment.
Why on earth should we feel sorry for them - delusional - I think so!
So Momma Cherri's signed on! Along with millions of other people who have lost their jobs, actually through no fault of their own (and don't feel the need to shameleesy publicise it either) such as her unfortunate staff who have all lost their livelihood as a result. Even worse Momma Cherri's and Co knew the adminstartors were going in and decided not to give any of their staff notice or an opportunity to look for new employment. Why on earth should we feel sorry for them - delusional - I think so! mya
  • Score: 0

9:01pm Fri 21 Aug 09

lost_boy says...

Well said! from what i've heard it is the staff and the suppliers that have been left out of pocket despite what I had previously read about them being paid out. But they would never mislead us would they? Didn't mamas daughter run the place in the ground (after mama did that is) i notice she seems to have escaped a mention. isn't it time they got over themselves!
Well said! from what i've heard it is the staff and the suppliers that have been left out of pocket despite what I had previously read about them being paid out. But they would never mislead us would they? Didn't mamas daughter run the place in the ground (after mama did that is) i notice she seems to have escaped a mention. isn't it time they got over themselves! lost_boy
  • Score: 0

10:33pm Fri 21 Aug 09

Rocker says...

The only thing this place is famous for is bad service and ripped-off customers stretching back years. Probably the most hated eaterie in Brighton,but kept going through the Ramsay association.

About time it vanished forever. Should have shut down years ago,before thousands of diners got third-rate service and bad memories.
The only thing this place is famous for is bad service and ripped-off customers stretching back years. Probably the most hated eaterie in Brighton,but kept going through the Ramsay association. About time it vanished forever. Should have shut down years ago,before thousands of diners got third-rate service and bad memories. Rocker
  • Score: 0

10:41pm Fri 21 Aug 09

gourmet jack says...

The only thing this place is famous for is bad service and ripped-off customers stretching back years. Probably the most hated eaterie in Brighton,but kept going through the Ramsay association.

About time it vanished forever. Should have shut down years ago,before thousands of diners got third-rate service and bad memories.





Yes!!!!

I completely agree !!
The only thing this place is famous for is bad service and ripped-off customers stretching back years. Probably the most hated eaterie in Brighton,but kept going through the Ramsay association. About time it vanished forever. Should have shut down years ago,before thousands of diners got third-rate service and bad memories. Yes!!!! I completely agree !! gourmet jack
  • Score: 0

11:27pm Fri 21 Aug 09

TheInsider says...

Soul on the dole
Soul on the dole TheInsider
  • Score: 0

8:42am Sat 22 Aug 09

Tye says...

BiggerH wrote:
"Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession." ha ha
Nasty little man, why not go to and have a look at the poor folks going through "Chemo" at your local hospital

You'll have a great ol' time
[quote][p][bold]BiggerH[/bold] wrote: "Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession." ha ha [/p][/quote]Nasty little man, why not go to and have a look at the poor folks going through "Chemo" at your local hospital You'll have a great ol' time Tye
  • Score: 0

10:09am Sat 22 Aug 09

BiggerH says...

Tye wrote:
BiggerH wrote:
"Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession." ha ha
Nasty little man, why not go to and have a look at the poor folks going through "Chemo" at your local hospital

You'll have a great ol' time
you clearly didn't understand

I laughed as I don't believe this was the reason she failed.

try and think before you type
[quote][p][bold]Tye[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BiggerH[/bold] wrote: "Mrs Jones put the restaurant’s failure down to not being able to attract enough diners during the week because of the recession." ha ha [/p][/quote]Nasty little man, why not go to and have a look at the poor folks going through "Chemo" at your local hospital You'll have a great ol' time[/p][/quote]you clearly didn't understand I laughed as I don't believe this was the reason she failed. try and think before you type BiggerH
  • Score: 0

10:13am Tue 25 Aug 09

pitor says...

Cant she get a job as a dinner lady?
Cant she get a job as a dinner lady? pitor
  • Score: 0

10:55am Tue 25 Aug 09

beeb says...

I visited Momma Cherri's once a few years ago and found it to be completely soul-less (ironically), with poor service and over-priced, tasteless food. Oh, and during our meal we had to sit opposite a TV and endure repeat viewings of a Momma Sherri's promotional DVD!
We never went again.
I visited Momma Cherri's once a few years ago and found it to be completely soul-less (ironically), with poor service and over-priced, tasteless food. Oh, and during our meal we had to sit opposite a TV and endure repeat viewings of a Momma Sherri's promotional DVD! We never went again. beeb
  • Score: 0

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