TOP city chef Jeff Baker has revealed that financial struggles, staffing problems and competition from York’s expanding restaurant scene have forced him to close his acclaimed bistro.

J Bakers, the Fossgate eaterie run by the Michelin-starred chef, shut suddenly three weeks ago.

As reported in The Press, the restaurant is being offered on a private lease for £135,000. The premises includes a three-bedroom apartment, where Jeff once lived with his wife and their two children.

Speaking exclusively to The Press, the chef revealed his Polish wife had returned to her homeland with the children until he finds a new job and place for them to live.

Jeff, a former Yorkshire Chef of the Year and the first chef to achieve a Michelin star in Leeds, said he was sad to close the restaurant after seven-and-a-half years, but it was unavoidable in light of financial pressures.

“Everything started to get a bit tight. The bank started putting on a big squeeze and it was becoming a pointless venture; we had to nip it in the bud.”

The chef, who once cooked for The Queen at Harewood House and catered for Princess Diana’s 25th birthday party, said although some people complained the restaurant was expensive, he sought to deliver good value for money.

“We barely put up our prices £1 a year – when we opened our three-course menu was £24 and when we closed it was £29.”

His cooking won rave reviews from leading critics such as AA Gill and Jay Rayner. Jeff said. “One of the hardest things we had to deal with was keeping staff; we went through too many front of house staff; maybe because of the expectations we were putting upon them.”

New openings in the city, such as Wagamama and Jamie’s Italian, also had an impact. “If we had pressed on we would have lost our share of the market place,” said Jeff. “There is inevitably going to be an impact if you put 1,500 new seats in the city centre over a condensed time.”

The chef dismissed suggestions that negative reviews on Trip Advisor had affected trade. “It’s a forum for people to say what they think and that is fine. That is where we live. Some of it is a bit silly.”

He thanked all his regular customers and revealed he would like to open another restaurant, but in London.

“I love York, it is a brilliant city and we have had a great time here – but our time was up. It is time to move on.”