A RESTAURANT owner has slammed the Council after he was forced to shut down in a Buckinghamshire village following ‘crazy’ requirements.

Nick Mash, the owner of The Mash Inn in Bennett End, has revealed what led to the closure of the award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant in January.

He slammed Buckinghamshire Council for lack of support for hospitality after the coronavirus pandemic, followed by “ridiculous” new licensing requirements just when the inn was getting back on its feet.

The Mash Inn was created with hard graft by Nick, his partner and the team over seven years.

Bucks Free Press: The Mash Inn kitchen used real fire to cook its award-winning foodThe Mash Inn kitchen used real fire to cook its award-winning food (Image: Nick Mash)

Before Covid hit, they had secured a coveted spot on the Michelin Guide, Waitrose Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year’ win and the Pride of Bucks Award.

“We had a great combination of owner and chef, and quite quickly we got some accolades and recognition by the press.

“We build the business up, and we did well.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Nick and the team were “feeding people when there was problem with the school meals and for anyone who was shielding.”

Nick put in a planning application for seven temporary shepherd’s hut-style cabins on the five acres of land to “fortify the business” during the Covid uncertainty for hospitality, and then for four cabins after the initial application was refused.

The proposed mobile cabins would have encroached on Green Belt land and “failed to safeguard the countryside,” Bucks Council’s cabinet member for planning and regeneration Peter Strachan said.

Nick was “hit really hard” by the refusals despite his efforts to “fly the flag for Buckinghamshire,” he said.

“There’s a lot of Airbnbs around here, a lot of people who turn their barn or greenhouse into an Airbnb.

“I’m not anti-Airbnb, but the same should go for us. It’s peculiar.”

After steering the business through the pandemic, Nick was left shocked when his licence renewal was up, which to him felt like “a no-brainer” after years in the village without complaints, he said.

“As far as I knew at that point I was getting along with my neighbours and they loved what we did because it was so quiet and there were no waste bins being collected at 2am, we were a quiet restaurant.

“But suddenly a few of them went against my licence,” he said.

The Inn had ever hosted only two events that could be classified as parties in a marquee after the pandemic ended with music not over-running, Nick claimed.

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However, pressure from “three individuals” in the village led the licencing officer to put in new “ridiculous” clauses, Nick claimed.

The first clause required all windows to be shut if music was played during an event.

The second requirement meant Nick had to record numbers and demographic of guests prior to any event.

Although Nick felt the requirements were “completely nuts”, he felt he had no choice but to agree on the conditions or else he would not be able to open on the weekend, which would have been catastrophic for the business.

“You think it through – what difference would it make if I had all the demographics of people here, what could anyone do with that information?”

He said collecting such information was against what he believes in.

“I was very upset about it.

“That put the nail in the coffin for me.

“However well you do and however quiet you are, you’re always going to piss some people off because you’re high end and operate in a certain market.”

When the new licence was in place from June until end of January when the restaurant closed, Nick held only one party, a birthday for a 90-year-old resident, but he refused to collect demographic information. 

To make matters worse, Nick was told his restaurant would have been up for a Michelin star in March if it hadn’t closed.

The Michelin Guide spokesperson confirmed they had “no alternative but to remove this entry from our selection.”

Mr Strachan said: “We are sorry to hear about the closure of The Mash Inn in Bennet End. Tourism and hospitality businesses are an important part of our local economy, and Buckinghamshire Council is committed to supporting and developing the growing industries in the county.

“The Mash Inn submitted two applications relating to the premises; a licence application and change of use planning application.

“The licence application received objections during the consultation period and as a result additional conditions were placed on the licence, which Mr Mash agreed with at the time. These measures were around safety and preventing nuisance.”