Chef Daniel Clifford is suing a supplier for £190,000 following a refurbishment project that turned sour.
The BBC Great British Menu judge claims that interior designer Joanne Dawes ignored his demand for “luxury” fittings and used cheaper furniture from a homeware supplier instead when kitting out The Flitch of Bacon in Essex.
Central London Country Court heard from Mr Clifford that the chairs at dining area within the three-bedroom inn “broke simply by somebody sitting on them”, leaving him to redesign the site less than five months after it opened.
However, Mrs Dawes, 49, whose company is called Jo Frances Ltd, told the court her work was up to scratch during a “chaotic” renovation, according to the Evening Standard.
She believed Mr Clifford’s claims were an attempt by the chef to avoid paying more than £100,000 in outstanding invoices and is counter-suing over the alleged missing money.
Mr Clifford said the refitting of a listed building in 2015 was his “baby” and he expected Mrs Dawes to deliver a “perfect” restaurant. “The furniture was too big for the room and that was part of the problem.”
He claimed £35,000 worth of chairs and tables could accommodate only 52 covers, not the 60 he wanted, and a replacement designer had to be brought into reconfigure it to achieve the desired number of covers.
The chef also said a wooden pergola did not fit in the garden, tiles on the bar floor cracked and had to be replaced, and furnishing for the bedrooms was of “poor quality” and “of mediocre appearance”.
James Petts, for the designer, argued that the contract never detailed that it needed 60 covers. He said: “Many of the problems attributed to her were in fact caused by the disorganisation and excessive haste with which the works were carried out.”
Mrs Dawes argued there is “no evidence that the chairs broke as a result of some inherent weakness”.
She also claims the pergola did not fit because speakers had been fitted in the courtyard, which were not in the architect’s drawings, while floor tiles cracked because other contractors had failed to prepare the underfloor correctly.
Mr Petts added: “There is no evidence at all that the rooms could not be let out at any particular rate owing to the standard of their decoration. It is plain from considering the evidence in the round that the defendant is simply raising a cloud of meritless objections to avoid paying Jo Frances’s legitimate invoices.”
Judge Nicholas Parfitt will give a ruling on the case at a later date.
The business, which won a Michelin Star in October, is currently closed, with a message on the restaurant with rooms’ website reading: “We are closed until further notice due to electrical issues. We apologise and will be in contact with anyone who has a scheduled reservation. Thank you for your support and understanding.”