Zeev Godik has stood down from restaurant group Gaucho just a week after the company appointed a new chairman, prompting rumours that he has been forced out of the business he founded.
Godik founded the restaurant in 1976, and has been in the post of chief executive ever since.
A statement released today said that he wanted to pursue opportunities in Dubai where he lives with family, and that he will remain a shareholder in the company.
But his departure rang alarm bells in the industry, coming just a week after former Asda CEO Paul Mason replaced Luke Johnson as chairman of Gaucho.
An industry source told City A.M. there was "no way" Godik would walk away without being forced out. "It was his family business," they said.
Gaucho has lost several others from its top team over the past two years. Gary Mann left last year to become CFO at Honest Burger, while the boss of sister brand Cau stepped down in September this year.
Gaucho was sold for more than £100m to Equistone last year, but sources suggested that the company's value is now closer to £70m.
Godik attempted to play down any hint of animosity at the business in his comments today, saying: "I'd like to thank all the people who have worked with me to grow Gaucho Group into the brand it is today. That includes of course the ongoing management team which I have brought together."
It comes at a time of upheaval for the casual dining industry, as many restaurants see their sales fall and costs go up.