Guy Adams has owned the historic restaurant since 2002. It came under a new management team last year after falling into administration, but was closed again recently after Adams became concerned when stock began disappearing and gross profits weren’t adding up.
“I ran this restaurant very successfully up until about Christmas time,” he said. “But I’ve just been robbed by the staff. It was the classic case of huge amounts of stock disappearing and all the other usual tricks.
“£1830 was taken out of the till last month for ‘casual labour’ and the gross profits were just all wrong, which meant that they were either stealing the wine, or not charging people for it.
“For a while, I just couldn’t work out why the GP was so bad. I’d actually spent the whole day interviewing for a new general manager and there were a couple of people shortlisted. Then the management accounts came through for that past month and I just thought, because I’d recently put a new team in place, there was just so much rot there so it was a good time to sell.”
Adams, who is also the managing director of wine wholesalers Heritage Wines and Old Cider Mill Bond as well as the owner of a property company, made an abrupt decision to close the restaurant - leaving the staff out in the cold, quite literally.
“What they (the staff) didn’t realise is, it doesn’t matter either away for me,” he added. “I got them all to follow me outside, to the opposite side of George Street, I told them to stay there and I that was going to get a locksmith and change the locks - then none of them could steal from me anymore.
“I left them on the other side of the road and they couldn’t believe it. I paid them all up to the last day and then said ‘thanks very much, goodbye.’”
On the market
The Hole in the Wall was placed on the market this week by Christie & Co for a leasehold interest of £175,000. The 85-cover restaurant is housed in the vaults of two Georgian townhouses and comes with a unique history
Originally known as The Cellar, the venue was given the nickname The Hole in the Wall by American servicemen just after the Second World War, and the name stuck. The site is now renowned as ‘the birthplace for haute cusine in Britain’, as it was established by the influential restaurateur and chef George Perry-Smith in 1951.
Valerie Turner of Christie & Co’s Bristol office said: “Opportunities to acquire restaurants of this calibre - and with such a unique place in British culinary history - do not come along too often. We expect a great deal of interest in this superb business opportunity.”
A number of offers have already come in for Adams, who believes the restaurant could suit either a large chain or a big-name chef.
“I’ve got various options open to me - a number of people that keep ringing me up asking if they can run it under management - so I’ve got that option and I’ve also got the option to just sell it. To get a restaurant in the middle of Bath is like gold dust.
“I think what would really suit it is a celebrity chef that hasn’t made it yet. I had lunch with Marco Pierre White and he was very keen on having a ‘Marco Pierre White at The Hole in the Wall’ - something like that would be really fitting.
“Overall, I’ve loved my time here; I would do it all over again. There’s of course the option I could go back in there and do it all over again, but I’ve done really well at it and it’s time to either go at it wholeheartedly or just take the cash and move onto other exciting things, which is what I’m doing.”
For more information on the restaurant, visit www.theholeinthewall.co.uk.