The closure of the Walnut Tree Inn in Wales, one of the UK's most famous restaurants, has been met with disappointment by industry figures.
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.
Stephen Terry, former co‑owner and head of the restaurant, and now chef-proprietor of the Hardwick, three miles from the Walnut Tree, said the closure marked a sad day, not just for the restaurant but also for the area.
"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
• Francesco Mattioli and Stephen Terry take over from Franco and Ann Taruschio, who ran the restaurant for more than 30 years.
• The restaurant is awarded a Michelin star.
• Terry leaves.
• The Walnut Tree loses its Michelin star.
• Spencer Ralph joins as head chef.
• Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares screens on Channel 4. Mattioli denies rumours of sale of restaurant.
By Kerstin Kühn
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