The 26-cover Darlington restaurant closed at the beginning of May, and has spent over £200,000 alone on a new, custom-made kitchen.
The refurbishment of the 200-year-old former drovers’ inn also included the installation of two large glass windows – one replacing the original bar wall, and another offering guests a view into the kitchen upon arrival.
The project also included the transformation of the former bar into a development kitchen, the latter of which was previously housed in a shipping container in the car park.
In late summer, Close plans to open a six-seat chef’s table overlooking the development kitchen, taking the restaurant’s overall seating capacity to 32.
Close worked with local companies and building firms on the project, including County Durham-based Create Architecture, and Newcastle-based restaurant and kitchen suppliers Crosbys.
Along with his parents, Close opened The Raby Hunt in 2009, initially as a simple pub serving traditional British food such as fish and chips.
Later, Close decided to take it down a higher-end route, receiving the first Michelin star in 2012. The restaurant won its second in 2016, thus becoming one of only 20 in the country to receive the dual accolade.
It now serves a three-hour, 15-course tasting menu as its only option, and in 2015 scrapped lunch service to reduce staff stress and also to give the team more time to develop new and creative dishes.
Close is nominated in the Chefs’ Chef of the Year category in the 2017 Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards 2017, with all winners set to be announced at the event at London’s Hurlingham Club on 12 June.