Claude and Claire Bosi, owners of the two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus restaurant in Ludlow, Shropshire, have sold the site to chef-restaurateur Alan Murchison for about £295,000, Caterer can reveal.
The couple, who announced their departure from Ludlow last July, said they would close the doors on 7 April. They will retain the Hibiscus name for a new site in London's Mayfair, and they are close to finalising a deal for this property.
Former Raymond Blanc protégé Murchison, who owns the one-Michelin-starred L'Ortolan restaurant in Shinfield, Berkshire, will rename the restaurant Le Becasse.
Murchison said the loss of the Hibiscus name was not necessarily a bad thing. "Hibiscus has always been Claude's baby," he said. It was 50:50 on whether retaining the name would have been a good thing or not because we've got to put our own mark on the restaurant."
Claude Bosi said: "I am very pleased that someone like Alan is buying the Ludlow site - it will be in good hands."
The new restaurant will open on 2 May after an estimated £100,000 revamp, which will include the installation of a Champagne bar and a private dining room for 16 on the unused first floor. Will Holland, currently head chef at L'Ortolan will run the kitchen at Le Becasse, while L'Ortolan sous chef Robin Gosse will step into Holland's shoes.
Murchison admitted running a restaurant in Ludlow would be a steep learning curve. "At L'Ortolan, 40% of our customers are businesspeople whereas Ludlow is much more of a foodie destination," he said. "August, normally very quiet, is the busiest month for Hibiscus."
He also dismissed suggestions that Ludlow was on the wane as a culinary destination after the exit of the Bosis, chef Shaun Hill and the attempted sale of former Michelin-starred site Overton Grange.
Want to read more?
By Joanna Wood and Tom Bill
E-mail your comments to Joanna Wood and Tom Bill here.