A RESTAURANT owner has blamed the failure of her business on being unable to compete with a pub chain.

Treo bar and cafe, in Harwich, announced it was closing on Friday due to the business going into liquidation - making 22 staff redundant.

The independent restaurant, in George Street, was owned by George and Jayne Priestnall and managed by Chelsea Dingwall.

Ms Dingwall said despite changing the restaurant’s opening hours to attract more customers, the business could not compete with JD Wetherspoon which opened nearby last year.

Ms Dingwall said: “When Wetherspoon opened we lost a lot of trade and that affected us massively as we are a small business.

“It was hard to compete with Wetherspoon as everybody uses it as their go-to place in town.”

Mrs Priestnall said: “Unfortunately we just haven’t been able to put bums on seats since the large restaurant chain opened in town last July.

“It has been a large shock for George and I, we didn’t see it coming.”

Customers took to Facebook to express their shock over the business’ closure.

Sarah Faircloth, of Aldon Close, Dovercourt, said: “My husband and I are incredibly shocked at the closure of Treo. We, along with many others, never saw it coming and find it quite heartbreaking.

Eddie Gershon, Wetherspoon spokesman, said: “We are sorry the owner of Treo has had to close their restaurant.

“Wetherspoon competes with all other businesses in Harwich and ultimately it is for the people of the town to choose where they wish to eat and drink.”