What’s Cooking founder buys it back

THE boss of Panama Hatty’s has bought What’s Cooking in Liverpool, a restaurant he founded in 1978 and later sold on.

Lee Brennan has acquired the Albert Dock restaurant out of administration, saving 35 jobs.

It was owned by Guy Lawrenson’s CS Living which was forced to call in administrators at Milner Boardman in Hale on November 11.

Earlier this year Mr Lawrenson opened a second restaurant, What’s At Sixty Two, at the 62 Castle Street boutique hotel. But this closed with 30 redundancies before the administrators arrived.

Mr Brennan said: “It’s an iconic brand in Liverpool and there was a danger someone would close it and just take the site. We’ve managed to keep it going and we’ve kept 35 staff on.

“What’s Cooking’s 40th anniversary is just around the corner. It would be great to think an independent restaurant brand I started when I was 21 will hopefully reach 40. It’s quite a milestone.”

Mr Brennan founded What’s Cooking on the Wirral and moved to the Albert Dock in 1983. He sold up in 1996 and went on to found Panama Hatty’s which has two restaurants in Manchester and Tarporley, Cheshire, and employs 65 staff.

“We’re excited about the prospects,” said Mr Brennan, who has refunded £10,000 of deposits for bookings at What’s At Sixty Two to avoid any ill-feeling against the brand, and to generate goodwill.

The CS Living insolvency is being handled by Gary Corbett and Darren Brookes of Milner Boardman who said there has been some interest i the What’s At Sixty Two site which “has effectively been mothballed”.