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The Caterer

Former Michelin-starred restaurant forced to close

08 March 2007 by
Former Michelin-starred restaurant forced to close

The closure of one of the UK's most iconic restaurants has been met with disappointment by industry figures.

The Walnut Tree, the former Michelin-starred restaurant near Abergavenny, which was taken over by current owner Francesco Mattioli in 2001, was taken into receivership last week.

Mattioli would not comment on the reasons behind the closure when contacted by Caterer, but in a statement on the Walnut Tree's website he said the restaurant had been forced to close "pending some reorganisation".

"We apologise to our customers for having to close at short notice," he said. "Please watch this website for the reopening date and an even better restaurant."

However, it seems unlikely that the restaurant will reopen under its current guise.

"Mattioli is a very passionate man and if anyone is capable of making the restaurant work it's him," he told Caterer. "But there's a fine line between success and failure when it comes to restaurants, and it wasn't easy from the start."

Food writer and restaurant proprietor Simon Wright said: "The Walnut Tree is such a historic and famous restaurant and has done so much to put Wales on the culinary map. It's definitely one of the UK's best country restaurants and has every prospect to continue as a successful restaurant, whether it's under Mattioli or someone else."

Gordon Ramsay featured the Walnut Tree in his Channel 4 series Kitchen Nightmares in 2004, clashing with Mattioli over its menu and prices. Mattioli later said he was unhappy with the portrayal of his business.

The Walnut Tree - A timeline

February 2001

•Francesco Mattioli and Stephen Terry take over from Franco and Ann Taruschio, who ran the restaurant for more than 30 years.

January 2002

•The restaurant is awarded a Michelin star.

February 2003

•Terry leaves.

January 2004

•The Walnut Tree loses its Michelin star.

February 2004

•Spencer Ralph joins as head chef.

May 2004

•Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares screens on Channel 4. Mattioli denies rumours of sale of restaurant.

February 2007

The Walnut Tree Inn closes temporarily.

By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin KÁ¼hn here.

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