A village has been rocked by the closure of one of its most popular pub/restaurants.
The Grapes at Croston, which has been an alehouse for more than 200 years, has surprised locals by shutting its doors with Christmas just over a month away.
Mystery surrounds the shock shutdown, although one villager claimed it came just a day before the lease was due for renewal.
“I can’t believe it because the Grapes has always done really well judging by the number of people who go in there,” said local parish councillor Cath Almond.
“It’s a bit of a shock really. There is talk of it possibly re-opening soon with new people in charge. But right now no-one seems to know for sure why it has closed.”
The pub is registered with Companies House as being owned by a private limited company - The Grapes (Croston) Limited - which has two shareholders Martina Mary Brien, who is the only director, and David Kim Brien.
Neither was answering the phone at the pub.
One of the part-time staff, laid off by the closure, who asked not to be named, said: “We heard a new manager was going to be put in on Saturday to re-open it, but it didn’t happen. It’s such a shame because the Grapes has always been a popular pub and eating place.
“It would be a real loss if it didn’t re-open because the village wouldn’t be the same without it.
“Martina and Kim were in charge, but I’m not sure what has happened. It all came out of the blue really.
“I gather that the lease was up for renewal last Monday and they shut the place down on the Sunday night.
“From what people have told me it needed a lot of money spending on it and maybe they couldn’t afford it and take on a new lease.
“I don’t know for sure because no-one has been told much. Most of the staff there were part-time, or students. There were only a couple of full-time.”
The Grapes, in Town Road, Croston, has been a pub since the early 1800s when it also doubled as the local courthouse. A prisoners’ cell, complete with bars, still survives in the living quarters. The village inn has earned praise for its quality dining.