A once glamorous and thriving restaurant will go under the hammer after the sudden death of its owner.
The Hengist, in Aylesford, was popular for its fine dining and luxurious ambience but a cloud of mourning was cast above it when director Paul Smith, 43, was found dead at his home in nearby Rochester Road.
Two weeks after the tragedy, grieving staff announced the High Street restaurant was forced to close as a result of the devastating news.
The future of the three-storey property will be decided on Thursday, October 31, when it goes up for auction.
Experts at Clive Emson have set the starting price for the freehold between £180,000 and £200,000.
The Grade II listed building boasts two dining areas, kitchen, a bar area, reception hall, annex room, roof terrace, two offices and a landscaped garden with a paved patio.
It is being advertised with the potential of continuing as a business or being converted, subject to planning consent.
Flamboyant Mr Smith, whose body was found on Sunday, September 1, launched the restaurant in 2005 with business partner celebrity chef Richard Phillips.
An inquest has been opened into the businessman’s death, and the cause of death was given as suspension. The pair worked together on several other ventures, including Mr Phillips’ restaurants – The Windmill, in Eyhorne Street, Hollingbourne and Thackeray’s, in Tunbridge Wells.
According to Companies House a company called the Hengist Restaurant Ltd, which was running the venue last year, went into liquidation in October.
It is believed Mr Phillips tried to keep the restaurant solvent and ran it under a different business name.
Permission to renovate the Windmill was submitted last year by Mr Phillips and Mr Smith under the name All Rapped Up.
More details about the auction can be found at www.cliveemson.co.uk.