Back in business: Much-loved restaurant re-opens, a month after being forced to close by the Sheringham sinkhole
PUBLISHED: 15:05 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 26 June 2019
A Sheringham restaurant owner is welcoming customers again, a month after being forced to shut up shop when a sinkhole appeared outside his High Street business.
Terry Butler, who has run Crofter's Restaurant for nearly 33 years, was one of the worst affected High Street traders, and, because a section of pavement was fenced off while engineering work was carried out, he - and nearby Straits fish and chip shop - were left with no choice other than to temporarily close.
With debts mounting, Mr Butler, 63, was worried he might have to shut permanently, but he was delighted to be told by Anglian Water earlier this week that the pavements outside Crofter's would be re-opened today.
"It is really good to be back in business," he said. "We have got bookings already and the support we have had from other businesses and the community has been fantastic."
However, Mr Butler is now counting the cost of the closure and is hoping a scaffolding tunnel put along the pavement to protect pedestrians - and the smell of sewage coming from the sinkhole - will not deter diners.
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"It hasn't been a very good time for us, especially money-wise, and although we have had a part-payment from the insurance, we have still had to pay our staff as well as rent and other overheads," he said.
Engineers, who are digging eight metres beneath the sinkhole to access a suspected damaged sewage pipe, have been delayed by wet weather, however the work is expected to be finished in "weeks, rather than months."
Mr Butler thanked Sheringham deputy mayor Liz Withington for her help and support, as well as his staff team, some of whom are planning to return to Crofter's after finding other jobs when the restaurant was closed.
"At least we have footfall now," he added. "And, although we still don't know when work on the sinkhole will be finished, I don't think the situation has been poorly managed and I think it is very difficult to criticise when we don't know who is liable."
Mrs Withington said: "It is fantastic to see such a well-respected business back up and running and it has also been great to see the support the community has shown to those who have been affected by the sinkhole."
Crofters is open Wednesday-Saturday from 9.45am-1.30pm (evenings from 6pm) and from 9.45-1.30pm on Sundays. For bookings, phone 01263 82151. Straits Fish and Chips is due to re-open on Friday.