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Paul Heathcote's final bow out of Liverpool

Olive Press sold off to Gusto chain as celebrity chef aims to re-catch fallen star

Published on November 9th 2010.

Paul Heathcote's final bow out of Liverpool

PAUL HEATHCOTE has bid a final farewell to Liverpool with the sale of The Olive Press to Living Ventures.

The Cheshire based restaurant and bar group has acquired five restaurants from the Heathcote’s group for an undisclosed sum.

The deal sees three of the Olive Press branded restaurants, including the one in Castle St, Liverpool, moving over to Living Ventures, which owns Gusto in Albert Dock and Heswall, and the Blackhouse Grill in Chester.

The other two Olive Presses are in Cheadle Hulme and Manchester. Heathcote has retained the branch in Preston.

The well-known celebrity chefs said: "I am looking forward to running a smaller more focused family restaurant business.

"There is every chance that I will look to re-brand the Preston restaurant in the New Year but a final decision has yet to be made.”

He added that a licensing agreement had been reached with Living Ventures over joint continued use of the Olive Press brand and that both organisations would take some time to decide on future branding of those operations.

Paul added: “I have known Tim Bacon, CEO of Living Ventures, for many years. He is a very good operator....so I know the restaurants are in good hands.”

Tim Bacon said “We are delighted to be bringing this boutique group of restaurants into the Living Ventures family and are looking forward to developing the sites and integrating them into our existing brands.”

Living Ventures was founded in 1999 by entrepreneurs Bacon and Jeremy Roberts who have developed a number of successful high street brands since then including The Living Room, on Victoria Street, which was sold in 2007.

Thus the long retreat from his restaurant chain by Paul Heathcote, who closed down Liverpool's Simply Heathcote's in August, is almost complete. And, as far as Liverpool is concerned, it is goodbye.

Heathcote was born in Bolton in 1960. At the age of 29 he opened his first restaurant at Longridge, east of

Preston, and gained a Michelin star – to achieve this he sold his house and took out a £30,000 overdraft.

A champion of British food and local sourcing he became a media figure with regular television appearances and then spread his business across the north. The Longridge Michelin star fell a few years ago.

With this sale to Living Ventures the wheel has almost come full circle in restaurant terms, with Heathcote practically back to the beginning with just the Longridge Restaurant, and a couple of Olive Presses.

“The deal will allow me to concentrate on gaining recognition for a small group of restaurants. I have high ambitions for my original restaurant and the new Clitheroe one which opens next week,” he says.

“I am still a shareholder and director in the Heathcotes Outside catering business, of which I am very proud. We have some prestigious contracts and more in the pipeline and it continues to be an exciting business to be involved in."

But this nationally very important foodie figure is once again looking to the stars with this remaining businesses.

Heathcote said: “I have always said that at 50 I would change the way I worked. After nearly 35 years in the business I still have ambitions, including gaining Michelin recognition for Longridge.”

Meanwhile it would appear that Bacon and Roberts are empire building.

When we learn of how they are going to change the Olive Press we’ll let you know.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Italian loverNovember 5th 2010.

Olive Press has always been the poor relation. staff are nice and it's a good atmosphere, but apart from the pizzas, which are good, have always found the food never lived up. Energies always elsewhere

Carbon naraNovember 5th 2010.

that part of the city centre is saturated with Italians. Like a plague they are and it's a bit old fashioned with San Carlo and Piccolino jostling near by. However, it is still miles better than Gusto

AndyNovember 5th 2010.

Wot's happening to the rather nice glass building that was Heáthcotes in Liverpool??

AnonymousNovember 6th 2010.

it is lying empty

ParkNeatNovember 8th 2010.

Free or very cheap (£1 a go) parking at weekends would give restaurants and other city centre traders a big lift. Finding somewhere handy to park in and around Castle Street is very difficult. Soon with the City Centre Standstill Strategy it will get much worse. Will Paul H be the first of many to throw the towel in????

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