Restaurant owners are being taken to court for carrying out works on a Grade II listed building without having planning permission.
Terry Pritchard and his business partner Darren Isaac turned the Stony Stratford building from a derelict pub into popular restaurant Smoke Shack.
But six months after opening, the pair are facing criminal charges for making “considerable unauthorised alterations” - and the council says it wants the changes reversed.
Mr Pritchard said: “I have put everything into this, so if we lose, then I have lost my business, my job and my house. I will be bankrupt. I will have lost my life.”
A petition to fight against the action being taken by Milton Keynes Council was launched this week after lodging an appeal. It has already gathered 4,000 signatures in two days.
The owners say the dispute is over a “50cm hole for extraction ducts”, which they claim were required by the environmental health at the council.
Mr Pritchard, who employs 19 staff, while making £15,000 a month thanks to a weekly influx of more than 1,000 customers, said: “Our investment in this building is now close to £100,000 and we have been ploughing every penny we make back into it.
“But more importantly than money, there has been an incredible amount of hard work and passion put into this project by the team. We feel we have achieved so much since we opened.
“Despite all of this, we find ourselves in a lose-lose situation.
“The council is now trying to force us to remove every single piece of work done.
“I have put everything into this, so if we lose, then I have lost my business, my job and my house. I will be bankrupt. I will have lost my life.”Terry Pritchard
“These holes could be easily reinstated, were the equipment ever to be taken out. It is an incredibly upsetting position to be in.”
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm the investigation into the alleged unauthorised alterations and the decision to issue a Listed Building Enforcement Notice and initiate legal proceedings has at all times been conducted in accordance with our adopted enforcement policy.
“We are not in the habit of hindering our local businesses - quite the opposite - and we will always negotiate where possible, but on this occasion we have been left with no alternative but to pursue enforcement action.”
Mr Pritchard added: “We want simply for the council to stop fighting us and talk to us.
“We want them to see what little their negative action really achieves and the bigger picture of working with us to keep it open.
“Instead, it seems they just want to destroy our business and the lives of the people who work there.”
Mr Pritchard and Mr Isaac are due in court on May 8. To find out more about the petition, visit www.change.org/ and search for Smoke Shack.