Lee Brennan founded What’s Cooking on the Wirral in 1978 and moved it to the Albert Dock in 1983 before selling up in 1996 to found Panama’s Hatty, which has two restaurants in Chester and Manchester.
He stepped in to save his former business after it fell into administration and faced imminent closure.
Brennan plans to run What’s Cooking to with all of its existing 35 staff in place, and continue relationships with existing suppliers and service providers.
"What’s Cooking is an iconic brand in a city that’s at the top of its game right now. There was a danger someone would close it down and just take the site,” he said.
"We're excited about the future of What’s Cooking and our plans to revitalise it. Not only is it superbly located but the city is unrecognisable from when we were last here in 1996.
“The opportunities, now, are immense. We also have the support of the Albert Dock Company who has helped us with the transition."
What’s Cooking’s second site What’s Cooking at Sixty Two, which was opened at the 62 Castle Street hotel in April 2014, has been shut down with 30 redundancies.
Brennan has refunded the deposits of customers who had booked there in order to ‘avoid any ill-feeling’ against the brand.
"What's Cooking's 40th anniversary is just around the corner. It would be great to think an independent restaurant brand I started when I was 21 could reach the milestone of 40. With business prospects being good at the moment we’re positive we can achieve this," Brennan said.