The new owner of Paul Heathcote’s two restaurants in Preston has been unveiled as trendy steak and burger group Solita.
The celebrity chef announced earlier this week he was hanging up his kitchen whites and selling the last two eateries in his once-thriving empire.
Now Solita, supplier of the best burgers in the UK according to the Daily Mirror, has revealed it has taken over both the Olive Press and Heathcote’s Brasserie in Winckley Square.
The two restaurants are to be combined in a major refurbishment to create the biggest bar and grill in the Manchester-based Solita stable.
“We’ve been keen to expand north (of Manchester) and Preston has always been one of our target cities,” said co-owners Franco Sotgiu and Simon Pogson.
“When Paul asked us if we’d be interested in the site we did the deal in a matter of days.
“We feel Preston has massive potential and are keen to bring our style of exciting food there as soon as possible.”
Refurbishment work is due to begin next month and the two restaurants which occupy the same building in Winckley Square will be re-designed to include a new bar area, new kitchens, private dining rooms and a bespoke meat ageing room.
The deal is the latest chapter in an ambitious expansion programme by the owners of Solita. The group was only launched in 2012 but now boasts six restaurants with venues in Manchester, Didbury and Prestwich.
The original Solita, on Turner Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, has become famous for its Big Manc burger.
The group has now expanded out of Greater Manchester into Preston and says further ventures are in the pipeline.
The Solita trademark is derived from “South of Little Italy” due to the location of its first restaurant just below the Ancoats Little Italy area of Manchester.
The sale brings an end to 26 years of restaurant ownership for TV chef Paul Heathcote. He now intends to focus on his outside catering business.
He opened his original Heathcotes restaurant in Longridge in 1990 and has been in Winckley Square since 1995.
“I’m 55 and still doing all the cooking,” he explained. “Twenty years is a long time and it’s time for a change. I feel this is the time to do something different.”
Before details of the new owners were revealed he said: “I’ve known them for a long time - it’s been an easy conversation.
“I’m confident they will bring something new and exciting to Preston.”
“There’s a lot happening in the city and with this year’s plan for the square and the Fishergate Centre there is much to look forward to.”
Solita has become well-known for its steaks, burgers, wings, hot dogs and waffles. It has dishes on its menu such as “cheeseburger spring rolls,” “deep fried Mac ‘n cheese balls” and a “KFB burger.”