A beloved restaurant at the centre of a village has been forced to close after after 50 years serving the community.

The Peppermill Mediterranean restaurant in New Parade, Chorleywood, shut in February last year but moved up the road to the golf club.

But due to staffing and takeaway habits changing the business has now had to permanently close - causing customers to hail "the end of an era".

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Owner Andre Vazquez, 53, said: “There’s a pinch on takeaway businesses at the moment and people can’t afford to eat out.

“We have been there for 50 years, so we have a real following but it’s not necessarily local as people have moved away, and times are just difficult.

Watford Observer: Andre Vasquez in the restaurantAndre Vasquez in the restaurant

“Before Covid footfall was down massively, during Covid we did well on delivery but still not well enough to turn a profit.

“People in Chorleywood have more to lose financially.”

The business had been at the centre of the community for decades with his father Pepe, 87, mother Suzanne, 80, and sister Felicity, 49, all running it over the years.

Commenters seeing the news on Facebook described the closure as “the end of an era”, one remembered the it catering for their wedding in 1972 and many wished the family the best of luck.

Andre said: “Its lovely to see the support, it’s a very emotional situation as its been part of our lives since before I was born.

Watford Observer:

“My parents and I have got lifelong family friends through the restaurant, people that have become friends over the course of time through the restaurant.

“We’ve been an integral part of the community for 50 years so we had a responsibility, during COVID we made sure to feed certain at-risk pensioners and people who couldn’t get out at all.”

Although the restaurant will close, the external catering part of the business, Peppermill Productions, will continue.

Watford Observer: Andre Vasquez outside the restaurantAndre Vasquez outside the restaurant

Andre said: “We have a core of customers that ate at the restaurant or ate at a friend’s event which we catered and then they have hired us for following events so the catering grows over time.

“The catering is doing well, people are entertaining still and having events, confidence still isn’t super high though.”