Another much-loved restaurant is closing in Chester city centre with a new operator due to take its place.
Staff have confirmed the closure of The Grill in Newgate Street, better known as Blackhouse Grill, probably around mid-October.
The Chronicle understands Mitchells and Butlers are taking over the lease to open an All Bar One – self-described as 'stylish bars in central locations'.
News that Blackhouse Grill is closing comes just days after the Mockingbird Taproom in Lower Watergate Street shut its doors with immediate effect. And Italian restaurant chain Zizzi, opposite Blackhouse, closed earlier this month.
Insiders stress Blackhouse was popular and holding its own against increased competition from new restaurants including steak houses.
They suggest the closure decision followed a strategic review by owners Living Ventures, who also run Red Door and The Botanist in Chester.
It is believed the company wishes to focus its Blackhouse Grill brand on bigger cities. For example, the Leeds Blackhouse Grill has just signed up to a 25-year lease extension after planning consent was granted for £1m improvements.
Staff at the Chester outlet, some of whom have worked there for many years, are said to be ‘devastated’, ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’.
Mitchells and Butlers are currently recruiting for a general manager and an assistant to set up and run an All Bar One, opening in Chester next year. Sources within the pub and restaurant giant say it will be at the Blackhouse Grill premises.
One of the online ads states: “All Bar One are coming to Chester! We have acquired a brand new city centre location for our latest addition to the All Bar One family. Due to open its doors early 2017, we are now looking for a superstar general manager to make themselves known and come aboard to help mould the business from the very start.”
The Chronicle has asked Living Ventures and Mitchells and Butlers for an official comment.
A spokesperson for All Bar One said: “We are currently interested in securing a site for All Bar One in Chester but can’t confirm any further details at this stage.”