A BELOVED Italian restaurant in Colchester has been forced to close its doors, leaving loyal customers upset.

Valentinos Wivenhoe, in High Street, has shut for good, with owners Debbie and Stephen confirming the news in a social media post.

“We have had to make the toughest decision about the restaurant, we know it’s been a big part of people's lives,” they said.

“Unfortunately, we are just unable to continue trading.” 

The announcement came as a shock to many residents, with many saying the departure of the vibrant eatery marks “the end of an era”. 

Customers also reminisced about the authentic meals on offer at the restaurant, not least the infamous garlic bread which the establishment served. 

Bosses at the Railway Tavern, in Station Road, Brightlingsea, also responded with sympathy to the “very sad” news, highlighting the ongoing struggles facing the hospitality industry. 

In the message on Facebook, they urged people to support their local pubs and restaurants, saying: “Another beautiful restaurant gone. Hospitality is struggling so much right now. 

“Please keep on supporting guys. Every year hundreds of pubs and restaurants are closing. 

“The big, multi-million-pound chains don’t need you; the small independent ones do.”