Things are changing at The Marine on Milford on Sea seafront.
A few months ago the Blue Horizon Restaurant opened on the first floor, run by Stephen Caunter. This new venture is doing well, and will continue to go from strength to strength.
The downstairs café-bar is however a different story.
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Richard Thompson rebuilt this impressive art-deco style building five years ago, taking inspiration from the original building from the 1930's.
Although, a period design, the inside is modern, with expensive fittings and facilities which were destined to give customers a great experience. There is even a underground wine cellar with a glass roof in the café/bar floor. Add to this the inspiring and spectacular sea views over The Needles and Christchurch Bay - on paper everything was set for an successful business.
However, the spectacular location proved a major problem. On a bright summers day there are few places you would rather be, and if you ever took a drink on the roof terrace in the sun it would still stir delightful memories.
Although relatively close to the village centre, a cold, wet or windy day or night was enough to ensure that the café was empty more often than not. The bar element never took off, as people did not realise they could call in as a bar, rather than just a café.
Then of course there was the freak Valentine Night Storm in 2014, which flooded and destroyed so much of the building.
After many difficult months, Richard painstakingly put the building back together and reopened - now facing even greater premiums for his insurance.
Richard has tried many things to make the café-bar work all year round, but the harsh reality is that the weather dependant and seasonal nature of the location means that the business simply does not work. Indeed, there are numerous times when the takings have not even covered the staff wages.
So, unable to continue running at a loss, Richard made a decision with a heavy heart, to cease trading and shut the doors of The Marine Café-Bar for the final time last Saturday. (19th December 2015.)
To try and make this wonderful building into a true asset to the village, Richard has now submitted a Planning Application to NFDC, to seek permission to change the ground floor cafe-bar into additional B&B Accommodation. There are already B&B rooms upstairs that are well used and enjoyed by regular visitors, and these will remain alongside the Blue Horizon Restaurant.
It is sad to see The Marine Café-Bar go, but no-one can run a business for ever at a loss.
Blue Horizon Restaurant
From 1st January 2016: Open for Breakfast, Morning Coffee, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner.