PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Jose Garces appeared calm and collected as he chatted with Action News in Amada in Old City, the first restaurant the master chef owned.
"I am first and foremost a chef someone who loves to cook and is passionate about cooking," said Garces.
His empire expanded to more than 25 fine restaurants nationwide, from Arizona to Chicago to Palm Springs to many more here in Philly.
Eventually he had expanded too far and too fast and was filing for chapter 11, with debtor lawsuits flying everywhere along with a lot of bad press.
"We had some great moments, some highs, some lows, but I've learned a lot. It has been an interesting journey," he said.
Garces traces most of his woes to the downfall of Atlantic City's Revel Casino which went belly up four years ago. He had three restaurants there during its short life.
"Those restaurants represented a lot of bottom line revenue for our company," he said. "That loss pulled the rug from underneath us."
As he chatted with Amada customers Thursday, at least 16 of his restaurants were being bid on by investors who want the power and appeal of his brand names. He said he will maintain creative control and be loyal to his more than 700 longtime employees.
"I am first and foremost a chef someone who loves to cook and is passionate about cooking," said Garces. "I won't allow for our product or food to be diminished, I just wouldn't do it."
Garces says with the new partnerships there will be no dip in quality; he will still be the leader.
His restaurants are reopening next week when the former Revel Casino Hotel reopens under new management and a new name - the Ocean Resort and Casino.
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