A POPULAR cafe that has been at the heart of Southsea for more than 30 years has closed its doors.
Snookies in Osborne Road shut last Wednesday. A sign that was in the window saying it had shut for four days due to ‘family holidays’ was taken down on Thursday after the premises was sold to the Red Lounge Group.
Long-standing customers said they were shocked at the closure.
George Woods, from South Parade, in Southsea, went to the cafe on Thursday with his wife for a meal. He said he was sad to see the place locked up and in darkness.
The 80-year-old said: ‘There was no notice on the door.
‘I have been going there since I was in my 40s. I was definitely sad to see it go. It was very popular.
‘We were shocked that they had just disappeared overnight. It looks like they went so quick, with no notice up to thank their customers for their support over the years. My mother was in her 90s when she died and she always loved to go to Snookies. It’s a shame as it has so many memories.’
Fellow Osborne Road trader Andre Guedeney, who runs Andre’s Food Bar, said: ‘Snookies has been part of Osborne Road for many years.
‘I remember it when I was a kid. It certainly had a well-established clientele. It’s a shame to see it go.’
Work was due to start today to turn it into an up-market Indian tapas restaurant. Snookies had been on the market for the past 18 months and was finally snapped up by the Red Lounge Group, which runs which Kassia and Red Lounge in Drayton, Pasha, Red Lounge and Palash in Cowplain and Kassia in Clanfield.
The group currently employs 80 people across its six restaurants.
Its director Kaz Miah said they would be on the hunt for a further 20 to work in the new restaurant.
Mr Miah said: ‘Snookies had been there for more than 30 years. It was quite sad to see it go but the former owner said that towards the end it was not viable.
‘Hopefully we will revive it with our investment and our exciting concept –it should soon be the talk of the town.’
He said around £250,000 will be spent on the refurbishment, and they hope to have the restaurant open in November – in time for Christmas party season.
He added: ‘We are recruiting and are looking for people who are willing to learn. We are very excited about our new venture.’
The owner of Snookies was approached for comment, but declined.