The owner of Convivio has revealed why the restaurant suddenly closed its doors this week.
Thanasis Spinoulas, who has been at the helm of the Italian eatery in one of Chester's oldest buildings on Grosvenor Street since 2008, spoke exclusively to The Chronicle about his reasons for closing down, and expressed his sadness in doing so.
He explained: "The current lease came to an end and I put a proposal to the building's landlord to invest £250,000 in it to pay the rent on an annual basis upfront but he turned it down because he feels the restaurant business in general is in decline at the moment.
"So I had second thoughts too - it is a very old building in need of substantial renovation and we didn't want to do that without a good lease to work with.
"So many restaurants are in administration - there is lots happening on the restaurant scene at the moment," added Mr Spinoulas.
"But this isn't the reason we closed. It wasn't because we didn't want to carry on - we just had to make a business decision."
The iconic gothic building that housed Convivio, which has been described as 'an architectural masterpiece', has a history that spans many decades and was built in 1853 after architect James Harrison won a competition to design a Tudor-style savings bank.
It was TSB bank until the 1980s and was taken over by Chester restaurateur Stephen Wundke in 1992 when he re-opened it as Paparazzi, later known as Pastarazzi Ristorante.
Mr Spinoulas took it over in 2008 with his business partner at the time Giovanni Caggianelli and rebranded it as Convivio before Giovanni left, leaving Mr Spinoulas running the restaurant alone.
He said that all staff were aware that the restaurant was closing and even laid off some of them a few months ago to give them the chance to find other jobs.
"I can assure you we looked after our staff as best we can and kept them informed of what was happening," he said.
"The staff knew that we were closing and I am currently in the process of buying another restaurant in Chester which I can't reveal details about yet as it is in the hands of solicitors, but I would very much like to take the remaining staff with me.
"The building is now up for rent I believe - I don't think anybody has plans to take it over so it may well remain empty for a while.
"I am very sad to leave Convivio - I took it over and made it successful for many years," admitted Mr Spinoulas. "It was a good place and lots of people are very disappointed it's gone but sadly it is just one of these things.
"We have reached the end for now at least. Who knows what the future holds, it is early days."
"But I would like to say a big thank you to all my staff and clients over the years, they have supported me over the years and I very much hope they will come back to me at some point."