Gino D’Acampo has teamed up with an ex-timesharer to open his new restaurant.

The 45-year-old celebrity chef has linked up with Simon Clarke at the Gino D’Acampo Hotels & Leisure business.

The company – in which Clarke has a 72 per cent stake and D’Acampo 10 per cent – was established to run Italian restaurants in upmarket Melia Hotels.

Recipe for success? Celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo (pictured) has linked up with Simon Clarke at the new Gino D'Acampo Hotels and Leisure business

What is the recipe for success? Gino D’Acampo, a celebrity chef (pictured), has teamed up with Simon Clarke to create the Gino D’Acampo Hotels and Leisure company.

Three restaurants have been opened so far – at Melia’s Innside hotels in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

There is also a 17th floor Sky Bar at the Liverpool site offering ‘an extensive selection of premium international wines & cocktails, Cicchetti light bites & unrivalled panoramic views of the city’.

Sky Bar promises that it will be an attractive location for guests of hotels, residents and visitors. It’ll offer a place where people can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and get grooved to the beat of DJs who play every day.

D’Acampo is still reeling after the bankruptcy of his debt-laden pasta businesses.

The My Pasta Bar chain – run through another company, The Pasta Bar Specialists, and which offered freshly-cooked pasta meals to go – did not reopen its two branches in the City of London after the pandemic.

It was put into liquidation last month owing £5million.

Another of D’Acampo’s restaurant businesses – his Worldwide Restaurants group, which has eight lavishly-furnished branches in the UK – lost £7.6m over four years to 2020.

With his new venture, he hopes for some good fortunes. Clarke will be his business partner.

The collapse of Club Riviera, Britain’s largest time-share company with 20,000 clients, caught the 54-year old up in 1990. 

Clarke was the director at Clarke’s company. The “buy-sell fraud” became infamous in this case.

Owners of timeshares were advised that they could sell their old units at a loss if they purchase a Club Riviera unit.

The sales were never made, so victims had to pay for the two apartments, while Club Riviera took their money.

Bad taste: In the Nineties, Clarke (pictured in 1999) was caught up in the collapse of Britain's biggest timeshare holiday company, Club Riviera, which had 20,000 customers

Bad taste. In 1999 Clarke was involved with the collapse of Club Riviera (Britain’s largest timeshare vacation company) which had over 20,000 customers.

More than 40 MPs signed an Early Day Motion condemning the company’s behavior.

Clarke is also involved with North West-based restaurateurs and currently has two registered investment companies at Companies House.

It is through one of these companies – a business called Leisure Invest Limited – that Clarke holds his 72 per cent stake in Gino D’Acampo Hotels & Leisure.

Asked about the venture, Clarke – who recently sold his Robert Adam-style Cheshire mansion for £15million – said: ‘I’m not going to comment.’

Companies House records reveal ties between Clarke, and D’Acampo’s business partners.

Clarke, a Manchester-based director for Casual Restaurants Group from 2013 to 2018, was also a member of the board. 

Individual Restaurants operated from the same office that Individual Restaurants. Sir Malcolm Walker, founder and executive chairman of Icelandic supermarket chain Iceland, and Tarsem Dahaliwal are now managing directors.

Individual Restaurants – best known for the Piccolino chain and whose managing director Steven Walker was a director of Casual Restaurants with Clarke – lent Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants £12.9million in 2019-2020. Steven Walker and Dhaliwal serve as the directors of Worldwide Restaurants.

Vernon Lord was formerly the director of Casual Restaurants, Clarke and is currently co-director for D’Acampo’s restaurant chains’ operating company.

Between 2013 and 2017, Clarke – with Lord and Steven Walker – were also directors of a smaller Liverpool pub-restaurant business, Flying Pig and Lobster, involving another celebrity chef, Simon Rimmer. The firm still trades with two branches.

D’Acampo has come a long way since he was jailed for two years for burglary and handling stolen goods after guitars worth £4,000 and a platinum record were taken from the London home of 1980s singer-songwriter Paul Young in 1998. 

Italian waiter, the Italian admitted that he was in bad shape at that point. He had just recently relocated to Britain from Naples. Young even later apologized to him over the telephone in 2009.

He described his time in prison as a “dreadful experience”, but added, “In life, I have learned to make the best of all things.”

It wasn’t always easy, though.

After he was left with no meat, his 2009 win on I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here caused controversy.

The makers of the ITV show had to pay £3,000 in a fine and costs after being prosecuted by the Australian RSPCA for animal cruelty.

D’Acampo could not be reached for comment.

This article might contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in us earning a small commission. This is money helps fund it and we keep it for free. Articles are not written to sell products. Our editorial independence is not affected by any commercial relationships.