Mystery surrounds the future of The Pear Tree Inn owned by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, with it appearing that he is about to sell the Whitley eatery.
Mr Pierre White, who has owned the pub since 2011, closed the Pear Tree, part of his chain of national venues, at the start of the month. It was believed the restaurant was undergoing a refurbishment.
Wiltshire councillor Terry Chivers, who represents Melksham Without North and lives in Whitley, said: “What I’ve been told by a good source is that the lease has been sold. Over the last week everything has been removed and the whole place has been gutted.”
Attempts to put Cllr Chivers’ claims to the celebrity chef have so far failed.
It is understood that all the Pear Tree’s staff have left the business with its website claiming that it is temporarily closed for the summer and is expected to reopen at the end of next month.
Cllr Chivers said: “All the staff have gone and there has been no attempts made to replace them. I don’t think Marco will be missed in the slightest around here.
"He came in and made a big deal about supporting the locals but he didn’t even have the decency to tell them the Pear Tree was closing.
“He was pig-headed about the whole thing, from the start, he took off all the beers that the locals drank.
"There was such a massive turnover of staff and when you went into the pub you’d never find anyone at the bar to serve you.
"Marco was there all the time in the beginning but when things started to go wrong, he started to walk away. It was probably something of an embarrassment for him.”
One recent reviewer on TripAdvisor said: "The restaurant itself was disappointing and the last time I ever eat anywhere by Marco Pierre White... Pretty much every meal strongly overheated, overspiced or simply untasty - just not enjoyable!
"Sadly, we were very upset and disappointed when we left."
Whatever the future holds for the ownership of the Pear Tree, Cllr Chivers hopes it doesn’t stay closed for long.
He said: “I hope whoever has got it will engage with the locals from the start and get them back into the bar.
"Hopefully whoever owns the Pear Tree can come in and take inspiration from The Golden Fleece which has done really well, reopening, after it was closed for some time."