A Littlehampton landmark is back in business as its popular café was reopened under new management.
The Look & Sea Centre had been a sorry sight since it closed suddenly in August.
But on Thursday it was a very different story when its doors were opened to the public for the first time in months.
The Harbour Lights Café, which occupies the ground floor of the Surrey Street landmark in Littlehampton, has been taken over by entrepreneur Tom Barnes, who also runs the Lobster Pot in Felpham and two Bognor Regis-based cafés: The Hotham Park Café and The London Road Coffee Shop.
He said the ‘soft opening’ went well, with customers complimenting their coffees and cakes. The 41-year-old from Felpham, who has been in the industry for 10 years, got involved with the project in May after Arun District Council spent months looking for someone to take over the lease of the building.
He said: “We agreed to get something open this summer, so it was our priority to get the café open as quickly as we could, which we have done in five weeks. Now, we are concentrating on getting the kitchens refurbished and recruiting chefs so we can start serving food.”
The café is currently serving hot drinks, a selection of cakes and ice cream betweem 9am and 5pm.
Once they had hired more staff, Tom hoped to extend the opening hours to 9am to 6pm from July 1, and 8am to 8pm by next summer.
He added that there were ‘no firm plans’ as of yet regarding the use of the upper floors and viewing gallery.
Among the first customers of the revamped café were Bev and Paul Trim, who visited on Monday. The couple from Marchwood, Hampshire, were visiting Littlehampton on holiday and went after asking for a recommendation from a local.
Bev, 64, had an Americano coffee and ‘a delicious piece of coconut cake’ and described the café as ‘lovely’: “The decor was beautiful, and if I was in the area I would definitely visit again when they had the full menu.”
Sue Jefferys, a regular customer of the café before it closed last year, also tried it out.
She said: "Staff were friendly and welcoming, with nice and fresh looking decor and new furniture.
"The cakes look yummy and fresh and there is an ice cream parlour too. Word needs to get around that it is open again.
She added: "As well as myself there were some of the regulars already back there. It’s great that my coffee mornings will be starting again."