Raymond Blanc's restaurant proteges quit Marlow

Bucks Free Press: Raymond Blanc with proteges Michele English and Russell Clement at the Cheerful Soul in Henley Road Raymond Blanc with proteges Michele English and Russell Clement at the Cheerful Soul in Henley Road

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.

Comments (5)

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11:36pm Wed 11 Aug 10

Lividov says...

it is sad they have gone but i think they really were up against it in Marlow. This town must have a place setting for every person - it really does have a lot of restaurants already. Being right at the end of Henley Road didn't do it any favours either and having the ever popular Hand & Flowers close by must have been tough. Anyway bye Michelle and Russell - the pate thingy on that kind of toast with the salad I had was very nice.
it is sad they have gone but i think they really were up against it in Marlow. This town must have a place setting for every person - it really does have a lot of restaurants already. Being right at the end of Henley Road didn't do it any favours either and having the ever popular Hand & Flowers close by must have been tough. Anyway bye Michelle and Russell - the pate thingy on that kind of toast with the salad I had was very nice. Lividov

2:14am Thu 12 Aug 10

Voyeur says...

Hare and Hounds - meat restaurant.
.
Cheerful Soul - fish restaurant (Sole - geddit?).
.
'Nuff said!
Hare and Hounds - meat restaurant. . Cheerful Soul - fish restaurant (Sole - geddit?). . 'Nuff said! Voyeur

6:37pm Thu 12 Aug 10

jayradisson says...

I have to say I'm not surprised nor saddened by this! Twice I have tried to eat at the Cheerful Soul and twice I have been left stood without being greeted or acknowledged, and twice I have walked out and eaten elsewhere. On neither occasion was the place particularly busy and there is no excuse for not greeting and seating customers promptly. Having eaten at Le Manoir and being aware of the link, we were keen to check this out, but clearly experiencing Michele and Russell's cuisine wasn't to be! Regarding Lividov's comments about there being many places to eat in Marlow, this may be true, but so many of them are pretty dire. Lividov, can you recommend anywhere where the standard of service and food is good?
Anyway, as they say in the restaurant business - How do you make a small fortune? Take a large fortune and open a restaurant!
I hope they do better with their next place!
I have to say I'm not surprised nor saddened by this! Twice I have tried to eat at the Cheerful Soul and twice I have been left stood without being greeted or acknowledged, and twice I have walked out and eaten elsewhere. On neither occasion was the place particularly busy and there is no excuse for not greeting and seating customers promptly. Having eaten at Le Manoir and being aware of the link, we were keen to check this out, but clearly experiencing Michele and Russell's cuisine wasn't to be! Regarding Lividov's comments about there being many places to eat in Marlow, this may be true, but so many of them are pretty dire. Lividov, can you recommend anywhere where the standard of service and food is good? Anyway, as they say in the restaurant business - How do you make a small fortune? Take a large fortune and open a restaurant! I hope they do better with their next place! jayradisson

7:43pm Thu 12 Aug 10

Mrs DaPoint says...

It's a shame because I thought it to be one of the better restaurants in Marlow.
Good luck to them in their next venture.

(Wish I'd taken a note of the Merlot label)
It's a shame because I thought it to be one of the better restaurants in Marlow. Good luck to them in their next venture. (Wish I'd taken a note of the Merlot label) Mrs DaPoint

1:43pm Fri 13 Aug 10

freeforall says...

i am not at all surprised. The restaurant did not deserve patronage, the menu was too limited and the desserts disgusting and they ignored customers written complaints. they hadn't got a clue thinking that all they had to do was be friendly which of course they were. they are very nice people but not cut out for that business.
i am not at all surprised. The restaurant did not deserve patronage, the menu was too limited and the desserts disgusting and they ignored customers written complaints. they hadn't got a clue thinking that all they had to do was be friendly which of course they were. they are very nice people but not cut out for that business. freeforall

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