A POPULAR family-run cafe in Frinton’s main shopping street has shut its doors after 14 years.

Café 19, in Connaught Avenue, which was owned and managed by Andrew and Sharon Spratt, closed its doors for the final time last Wednesday.

Customers were left shocked by the cafe’s sudden closure and paid tribute to the beloved eaterie, which blamed the move on an increase in rent as part of a proposed new lease.

One resident, who did not want to be named, praised Mr and Mrs Spratt’s dedication to going above and beyond to help its customers feel accommodated.

He said: “To Frinton, it is an icon and a friendly place to eat and chat.

“Many customers visited the restaurant every single day - some had disabilities but were cared for by Sharon and Andrew.

“Sharon even found time once in her busy schedule to feed a customer who had severe dementia even though she was busy with restaurant duties.

“Café 19 will be sadly missed and was a beacon of light and friendliness to so many locals.”

As well as being popular with locals, the cafe also attracted a loyal following amongst regular visitors.

One customer would travel from London to specifically eat or relax at Café 19 and would often use the coffee hotspot to celebrate special occasions as well.

Mrs Cartwright said: “It was a thriving business and a very busy and popular place in Frinton.

“The staff were always really well-mannered and well trained, and food was excellent - the staff were close with the regulars.

“It is shocking to see it go and it will cause Frinton to die.”

The former owners’ parting message came on a pavement board outside the shop.

It read: “It is with great sadness we have had to close our family business of 14 years.

“Thank you to the whole of the Frinton community for supporting our family.”

They added that the “wonderful team” of staff have been left “devastated” by the closure - and that all wages, bills from suppliers and rent had been paid.

Mr and Mrs Spratt were contacted by the Gazette, but declined to comment further for the time being.