DINERS say they are saddened and upset after a popular family-run Italian restaurant was forced to close after a hike in rent.
Franco & Paolo Ristorante Italiano in Locks Heath Shopping Village has shut its doors after the landlord increased the rent by 40 per cent.
A statement to customers on Facebook read: ‘It is with great regret that we have to announce the closure indefinitely of Franco & Paolo Ristorante Italiano.’
Speaking to The News, Franco Ardani said: ‘Originally there was a rent demand for 65 per cent and I got a commercial rent negotiator on board and he got it down but it was still a 40 per cent increase which after doing the sums was not sustainable.’
Franco and his lifelong friend Paolo Cerasuolo opened the restaurant five years ago.
Franco added: ‘I did know that I was going to get an increase after being there five years but I didn’t expect those kind of inflated prices.
‘There should be a law that stops these greedy landlords of charging what they want or a capping system.’
Many residents have taken to social media to express their happy memories of the restaurant.
Beci Hall from Locks Heath said: I just told my nine-year-old daughter who loved their meatballs when they had stall at car show earlier this year.
‘She sobbed her heart out as she been so desperate to come for a meal there.’
Other locals have vowed to write to the landlords in a bid to save the restaurant.
Beci, 37, added: ‘It might be an idea but I’m also pretty certain they won’t listen unfortunately as business is all about the numbers.’
Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Councillor Sean Woodward had asked New River Retail for an update meetings on plans for the centre.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘I have since added tenancy issues to the agenda as I have had a number of messages from tenants in Locks Heath Shopping Village contact me. It is very sad that a local business has had to close and I have heard about many people’s happy trips to the restaurant.’
Cllr Woodward added: ‘Its also important to remember that Locks Heath Shopping Village is one of the best in New River Retail’s portfolio.
‘It is full of businesses and is relied upon heavily by residents in the Western wards.’
New River Retail was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.