LEGENDARY restaurateur Clinton Pugh is selling his Cowley Road dining empire so he can retire and do something else instead.

The 61-year-old is considering a range of options for a new career including doing up a house in Devon and following in his daughter Florence’s footsteps by making a movie.

But first of all he must sell the leases on his three prize assets - Cafe Coco, Kazbar and Cafe Tarifa.

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Mr Pugh, who launched Cafe Coco 27 years ago, has had a glittering career in the restaurant trade and now wants to retire so he can change direction completely.

He said the restaurants were being sold as going concerns and would be marketed by agents Christie’s from next week.

Oxford Mail:

The father-of-four said: “I just feel it’s time to do something different - I don’t want to be doing this when I am 65 - or 62 for that matter.

“My kids travel all over the world and I would like to do more travelling and possibly open a new place abroad but if I don’t do it now I never will.

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“The restaurants are doing fine - last Monday Cafe Coco was packed all day and all night so that’s not the issue - I just need a new challenge.”

Mr Pugh first came to Oxford aged 26 to run Clareys in Little Clarendon Street, an American-themed pizza restaurant and never looked back.

Oxford Mail:

As well as running The Grand Cafe in High Street, Mr Pugh enjoyed a spell at The Lemon Tree in Woodstock Road, where the fine dining attracted a string of celebrities.

“George Michael came and all the F1 guys including Eddie Jordan and Jenson Button,” recalled Mr Pugh, whose daughter Florence is a Hollywood movie star.

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He added: “Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea dropped in for tea at The Grand Cafe.

“It’s been a wonderful journey but I just want to change direction.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Pugh said he would not ‘run down Oxford’ because the city has been so good to him.

But he added that trading conditions have become ‘more competitive’ with a growing number of cafes to contend with and online businesses like Deliveroo.

The restaurateur said it had been an honour and a privilege to work with so many great staff over the years.

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He added: “Some staff move on quite quickly but others have stayed for 15 years - I’ve had loyal support and worked with some very special people.

Oxford Mail:

“While I’m still in charge I will stay positive and I want people to keep coming in.”

Other options Mr Pugh is considering for the coming years include doing up an old boat and running a glamping site.

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He added: “I have always designed classic contemporary establishments - independents are the most interesting side of the catering business - chains unfortunately can be a little soulless.”

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Lord Mayor Craig Simmons, who lives in East Oxford, said: “It’s a shame - I’m a big fan of Clinton because his restaurants have great character and he has always taken an interest in the local community.”