A POPULAR chef has left his Michelin-star premises in Penarth due to financial concerns after the coronavirus pandemic, the owner of the building has said.

James Sommerin, who has run his seafront restaurant from The Esplanade in Penarth since 2014, was not running a financially viable operation according to director and landlord Richard Hayward.

It is one of six Welsh restaurants given a star in the 2020 Michelin Guide.

James Sommerin has been contacted but did not want to comment.

Mr Hayward said after debts wracked up, he felt he had no choice but to ask Mr Sommerin to leave.

A management company is now trying to let rooms out above the restaurant.

Mr Hayward said: “Accountants have had a look at the figures and they don’t make good reading. I was not convinced the restaurant could recoup the money to cover the debts.

"I don’t believe we have acted unmeaningfully. It had become a commercial disaster.

"There is no doubt it was a very popular place and it worked beautifully for a while. We were pleased for some years.”

During lockdown, Mr Sommerin and his wife Louise – who he ran the restaurant alongside – cooked meals for the NHS, where they offered two three-course menus on Saturdays and a three-course meal on a Sunday.

Kitchen experts, Kutchenhaus, said it was the third best value lockdown takeaway service in Britain.

In June, a statement on the restaurant's website said: "We would like to thank everyone for their support since the start of Covid-19 from donations to help with us cooking meals for the NHS to supporting us by buying our take away and cakes.

"It’s been a busy couple of months for myself, Lou and Georgia so we have decided to have a couple of weeks to rest and recoup. All cake orders already booked in for the next two weeks will be made and future orders will resume in two weeks."

Mr Hayward added: “It was admirable to do the meals for the NHS, but it made no money and was again costing the business.”

Mr Sommerin is continuing to offer a takeaway service from Stanwell Road in Penarth, according to the newly named Sommerins website.