Heathcotes Outside, the events business of Lindley Group that was set up by former double Michelin-starred chef Paul Heathcote, has pulled out of two restaurants in Blackpool 18 months after they opened.
The caterer relinquished control of the Empress Grill and Mazzei Cafe in the Winter Gardens after it was forced to declare a loss of £45,000, but it will continue to operate the events and conferences business.
"It hasn't been the success as envisaged," said Heathcote (pictured). "As a compromise, when we took on the outside catering contract, the council wanted us to run the restaurant but it was always believed it would be a difficult venue to run.
"It has never been anything to do with me directly and I have never visited the site."
The venues are both owned by Blackpool Council, which had sought investment of £200,000, but Heathcotes Outside was only able to put £88,828 into the businesses, reported the Blackpool Gazette](http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk).
The poor performance of the two operations was blamed on a lack of passing trade.
Stephen McDade, Lindley's operations director said: "Heathcotes Outside has by mutual consent with Blackpool Council, agreed to relinquish responsibility for managing and providing general catering services at Blackpool Winter Gardens' Empress Grill Room and Mazzei Cafe in order to focus on Heathcotes Outside's core area of expertise - catering for conference, banqueting and events at the venue by providing a bespoke, first-class fine-dining experience for all occasions."
Both restaurants are expected to remain open, and will be run by Crown Entertainment, which operates the rest of the attractions in the Winter Gardens.
Councillor Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture on Blackpool Council, said: "We are disappointed things have not worked out with Heathcotes Outside. However, I want to reassure residents that under new operator Crown Entertainment Centres the exceptional quality of food and service will remain, with existing staff remaining in place.
"Crown will be offering expanded opening hours and a greater range of promotions and we are delighted Heathcotes will continue to operate as specialist event caterer in Blackpool."
The Mazzei Cafe opened in February 2011, while the Empress Grill opened in June 2011 in the former Backstage Bistro, employing 12 staff.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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