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Outgoing owners of The Great House in Lavenham reflect on 'incredibly rewarding' tenure after business goes on market for £1.4million

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The outgoing owners of a popular Suffolk restaurant, which is up for sale, have described their tenure as challenging but “incredibly rewarding”, as they retire from the business after four years.

The Great House Hotel and Restaurant in Lavenham has been placed on the market for £1.4 million after husband-and-wife owners Dominique and Julie Tropeano confirmed they will step down to focus on family and health.

The couple acquired The Great House from long-time proprietors Regis and Martine Crepy four years ago, and subsequently carried out a major refurbishment of the 14th century property, which is located in Market Place.

Dominique and Julie Tropeano are retiring from The Great House in Lavenham after four years of ownership. Contributed picture. (54201503)
Dominique and Julie Tropeano are retiring from The Great House in Lavenham after four years of ownership. Contributed picture. (54201503)

After successfully navigating the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Tropeano, who also owns Colchester Zoo, explained he felt now was the right time to hand over the reins to new ownership.

“It has been four fulfilling years, full of joy,” he told Suffolk News. “It was a challenge in a way, trying to improve the business from a structural point of view and make it a successful French restaurant, which I believe we’ve achieved.

“There’s no doubt we’ve gone through the life of Covid and Brexit, which are not changes that have helped our industry, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve managed to come through that.

“The previous owner had been there for many years, so when someone new comes in, there is a question mark, but we have a dedicated clientele in Lavenham and they’re still coming.

“We had a very successful Christmas. Like everybody else, we’ve suffered from cancellations but, generally, what people tell us is they love The Great House and love the service.

He added: “I can’t go on forever. I’ve had some health issues recently, which I want to take some time to sort out.

“Once you get to that age, as much as I love the industry and would love to carry on, your body is telling you, ‘you’re not 20 years old any more’.

“Because I’m working full time at Colchester Zoo as well, I think The Great House could benefit from having someone take over who can be there every day.”

The Great House is currently shut for January, while all staff take a break following the festive period.

Dr Tropeano explained the intention is that any prospective buyer would be able to retain all of the current staff.

The restaurant is on the market with Christie & Co on a freehold basis, with a guide price of £1.45 million.

Tim Gooding, director of Christie & Co’s hospitality team, said: “The Great House is an iconic building sitting in the heart of Lavenham.

“This, combined with an excellent business, will generate demand from the market which, last year in particular, defied expectations and turned out to be one of our busiest years on record in the region.

“Julie and Dominique have created a stunning ambience in the rooms and restaurant, which has driven substantial levels of repeat trade from a discerning clientele.’’