One of the oldest-established and most popular restaurants in Ampthill has been put up for sale after magistrates fined the owner £230 with a whopping £791 costs for ignoring repeated hygiene warnings.
Fajitas, which has been serving up Mexican dishes since 1993, is described on the selling agents’ website as having “an excellent reputation” and attracting “customers from the around the region”.
But Central Bedfordshire Council officials gave it just one star out of five for hygiene after an inspection in February last year and said they had “little confidence” in the management to make “major improvements”.
Bedfordtoday told last week how a second inspection six months later resulted in owner Gerald D’Arcy appearing at Luton Magistrates’ Court after dirty and poorly-maintained areas were found in the kitchen.
Now Mr D’Arcy, who has run the restaurant for 15 years, has put the lease up for sale at £35,000.
He has hired GPS Direct, a group of specialist business transfer agents, to handle the sale of the lease. The business is being advertised on www.daltonsbusiness.com/378889.
Their webpage says it is “a well-established international restaurant and bar in the affluent market town” and a profitable business with “an excellent reputation” which “attracts customers from the around the region”.
The restaurant, just off the town centre, is housed in a quirky, wood-beamed Tudor building dating back to 1677 which was once used as a workhouse.
The Fajitas website says: “Our aim is to give you the best Mexican experience with our range of Central and South American wines, beers, music and décor.
“We provide a perfect combination of fresh Mexican cuisine, beverages, Latin music and authentic decorative surroundings to accommodate your entire Mexican experience.”
But following the court case, Councillor Brian Spurr, who oversees community services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Anyone going for a meal rightly expects that where they will be eating – especially the kitchen – will be clean and properly run.
“That was not the case at Fajitas, and despite the owner being given repeated advice and guidance over several years to improve standards, he failed to do so.
“Prosecution is always a last resort for the council, as we would rather work with businesses to help them improve. However, that was impossible in this case which is why the owner now faces damage to both his wallet and his restaurant’s reputation.”
Despite that, the restaurant has received some glowing reports on Trip Advisor. TeamSimon wrote: “The most loveliest friendliest restaurant in Ampthill. Sam our waitress clearly always a step above customer service.”
Another poster said “Brilliant food with very generous portions! Will definitely go again”. Meanwhile on Facebook, Sammi Dessa gave it the maximum five stars.