THE winners of BBC show The Restaurant who set up a Marlow eaterie with celebrity chef Raymond Blanc have quit after they “ran out of energy”.
Michele English and Russell Clement, who ran the Cheerful Soul in Henley Road, have returned to Colchester, saying they were “desperate” to go home.
They took over the restaurant with Blanc in July last year as their prize for triumphing in the 2008 series of the BBC 2 series.
It followed months of training in a number of his establishments, including the Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons.
Michele said: "One of the main things for Russell and I was that we were desperate to come home.
"We had basically been working 24/7 without any time to even call our families. We didn't know the area, we didn't know anybody just the staff who worked here."
Having lived in Colchester for eight years, Michele confirmed the couple were intending to open a restaurant in the town in the near future.
She added: "We do intend to open a place here where we know the area well and have all our family and friends around us to help out.
"In the end we just ran out of energy to promote the restaurant in Marlow.
"One day my mum and my uncle came into the restaurant and I just burst into tears.
"In Colchester those people will be around to provide our own support structure."
According to a press statement issued by Raymond Blanc the restaurant initially did very well but in the last few months had been struggling for business, reaching a point where the losses were
such that it could not continue to trade independently.
"I am very sad and disappointed that the Cheerful Soul was not the success we had all hoped for," said Mr Blanc.
"Restaurants, of all small businesses, are particularly vulnerable to failure within the first 12 months and, despite Michele and Russell's great ideas and incredibly hard work, I am sure the
recession has not helped us in this case."
The restaraunt was previously the Hare and Hounds.
Mr Blanc said: "When a business runs out of steam, one has to ask oneself questions.
"As Michele and Russell's partner, I have to accept some responsibility for the breakdown of the business. Could I have done more?
"The good news is that a third party is willing to buy the Cheerful Soul and is managing the business in the interim.
"It is hoped that they will take on all the staff when the legal formalities are complete."
You can find more on the couple by visiting their blog below.