MONTPELLIER restaurant Armagnac has been sold – less than a fortnight after ex-Gloucester Rugby star owner insisted he would return from France to reopen it.
When Oli and his wife Katie closed their restaurant Armagnac in May, it was believed that it would only be a temporary measure.
But now the Echo has learned it had been on the market since December. And this month, the Montpellier Street restaurant was sold.
New owners Sadek Ahmed and Tom Johnson will open Tarragon on Friday. Their restaurant will sell locally-sourced food and exotic meat like kangaroo and wildebeest.
Mr Ahmed, who managed Cafe Rouge in the Promenade for eight years, said: "Armagnac had been on the market since December.
"He (Olivier Azam) came to me in December, but it was going for a ridiculous amount and so I didn't bother looking at it.
"At one point we thought we were going to get a place in Bath, but it was in a prime location and a lot of people went for it.
"We searched places in the Cotswolds, like Cirencester and Stroud, and knew Cheltenham was a good option, with the festivals being good for business. A month and a half ago, he came back to me. He had a lower price, so we looked around and we liked the place. We put in an offer and he accepted it.
"We went for a look around when he closed for two weeks for staff holidays. When we bought it, he decided not to reopen."
Mr Ahmed and Mr Johnson are currently refurbishing the inside.
On June 12, Oli told the Echo that Armagnac would continue and he would return to Cheltenham to reopen his restaurant when he was happy with the staffing situation.
At the time, he said: "I wasn't happy with a certain member of staff so it was closed but I wanted to give myself time to get it just right before re-opening."
Speaking from France over the weekend, Oli would not be drawn on the apparent u-turn, but said: "After eight very enjoyable years of owning Armagnac Restaurant, I have taken the decision to pass the restaurant over to a new team.
"After the birth of our second child, and my continued work commitments, it has been ever more difficult for my wife and I to come back to England on regular intervals to manage the restaurant, therefore we do not think it's fair for the business or the staff to continue without being on site, or at least, in the country, constantly.
"I have just signed a new contract for three years of coaching in France, which ultimately means my family and I will be in France for the immediate future.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank our front of house, Cathy, and all of our customers over the years, especially those that have become a regular face."