Ramsay-inspired restaurant's new start

It was all doom and gloom for a couple whose Michelin-starred west Norfolk restaurant was ailing. The classy yet struggling Rococo restaurant needed a boost - and it came in the form of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who featured the restaurant in his television show Kitchen Nightmares.

It was all doom and gloom for a couple whose Michelin-starred west Norfolk restaurant was ailing.

The classy yet struggling Rococo restaurant needed a boost - and it came in the form of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who featured the restaurant in his television show Kitchen Nightmares.

Thanks to his help and a lot of hard work, Rococo in King's Lynn's Saturday Market Place was redecorated, had an identity overhaul and became the now successful Maggie's - the only restaurant in the town in the Good Food Guide after just one year trading.

But while Mr Ramsay was yesterday celebrating being named the joint most Michelin-starred chef in the world, it emerged the Lynn restaurant was getting back on its feet after having to declare itself bankrupt.

Debts which Susannah and Nick Anderson started out with when they turned Rococo into Maggie's, and a few large bills, got the better of them.

But it is not all bad news. After being shut since September 26, they are due to reopen on Friday thanks to two customers and local businessmen who have set up a new company to run the now popular restaurant.

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Mr Anderson said: “It has been devastating for my wife and it is sad it came to this but we feel vindicated because we feel it was not our fault, the bankruptcy was forced.”

He said they shut on September 26 and filed for bankruptcy because HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was threatening to take away the contents of the restaurant because they had not paid VAT and PAYE debts after being landed with some large utility bills.

If they had owned the building, they would have been able to fall back on its equity. And despite their landlord offering to defer rent payments so they could pay off the bills, it was not enough.

“We are just fortunate two very good friends and customers want to see us continue and have created a new company,” said Mr Anderson.

“We investigated every avenue but because we did not own the property we could not go to the bank for a loan. The business is profitable and making good money.

“And we are very grateful for the support of our customers and suppliers.”

A spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC tries to act with fairness to all businesses. We may be able to help if a business is experiencing short-term difficulties by agreeing a brief period in which to pay the tax/duty. Although we do not accept post-dated cheques, we will consider all practical options for settlement.

“However, if a solution cannot be found or we do not receive a response to our request for payment, we may, like other creditors, take action to recover the money owed.”

From Friday it is business as usual with a daily changing menu of fresh seasonal produce on offer and with lunch menus at £9.

Mr Anderson said all bookings made at the restaurant would be honoured and that all the staff remained the same.

“We are positive and looking forward. We are sad this had to happen but the business will go forward.”

Mr Ramsay, meanwhile, now holds 12 prized Michelin stars for his restaurants around the world, putting him level with French chef Alain Ducasse.

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