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John Burton Race Restaurant with Rooms renamed the Abbey Sands hotel following chef's departure

21 September 2018 by
John Burton Race Restaurant with Rooms renamed the Abbey Sands hotel following chef's departure

John Burton Race Restaurant with Rooms in Torquay has been renamed the Abbey Sands hotel following the departure of the celebrity chef, just months after the property was rebranded by its owner Richardson Hotels.

Commenting on the split Keith Richardson, chairman of the family-owned company, told The Caterer that he and John Burton Race had parted on amicable terms, but added: "I got fed up with him. He is a brilliant chef, we had a dream but it did not happen.

"We could not sell enough of his food. The plan was to go up market. That is why I spent a lot of money on the hotel. The kitchen and the dining room are brilliant. We just could not get enough people paying £60 for a six-course tasting menu. I lost a lot of money over it. You learn lessons in life."

Moving forward the restaurant will serve "good quality homely English comfort food" overseen by the group's new executive chef Nicolas Legendre, formerly of the the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall.

Richardson Hotels fell into administration in January, but its founder said this was not because of the failure of John Burton Race Restaurant with Rooms, which previously operated as the Grosvenor hotel.

The hotelier said he had been in the middle of a £4m deal to purchase a Torquay holiday let business at the time and awaiting a £20m bank loan. When a £750,000 unpaid tax bill dropped before the loan had been received the business was sent into the hands of administrators.

The company is expected to exit administration on 1 October following the sale of two hotels - the 77-bedroom Fowey Hotel and 58-bedroom Metropole hotel in Padstow - for £17.75m to Harbour Hotels.

The proceeds have been used to settle mortgages with remaining funds set aside for creditors and the tax man.

Richardson said: "My administration has only lasted from 8 January to 1 October. During this time all six of my hotels have continued to trade well and after selling two I retain four after paying off all my mortgages."

Richardson hotels will continue with the Falmouth hotel, the Grand hotel in Torquay, John Burton-Race in Torquay and the Royal Beacon in Exmouth.

The hotelier added: "When the administrators came in they asked me if I wanted to sell the lot and retire. Of course not! Life is too much fun.

"I am chartered accountant and I knew that by selling two hotels I could surmount the problems. I had a very strong balance sheet - I now have four hotels worth £18m.

He added: "It is just a challenge for me. If you work hard you come out the other side."

Richardson said he is still pursuing the purchase of the holiday lets in Torquay and would consider growing the company further. He added: "You never know what's around the corner, if someone gives me an opportunity I could well go for it."

Richardson hotels to exit administration on 1 October>>

John Burton-Race announces his resignation from eponymous restaurant with rooms>>

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