A POPULAR harbourside café in Weymouth has closed after its owners announced their retirement.

The Ivy Coffee House, n Cove Row, is locally known as among the best places in the town for a hot drink and lunch.

Its TripAdvisor page boasts a four-and-a-half rating out-of-five, with reviewers describing it as a “lovely quaint café” with “service which comes with a smile.” 

Its owners of 10 years, Stephen Oakley and Sally White, shut the café’s doors for the last time on Sunday as they decided to retire. 

The news was met with a mixture of shock and sadness as one resident referring to the café as “in my opinion the best coffee house in town” and wished them a “happy retirement.”

Mr Oakley, 65, said they took over the popular café after they were made redundant from their jobs in 2009.

Seeking a new adventure, the pair took over the Ivy Coffee House in April 2010.

Dorset Echo: Ivy Coffee House is based at the New Rooms Inn buildingIvy Coffee House is based at the New Rooms Inn building

He said: “It was a new challenge. We were both faced with redundancy at the businesses we were at the time so we thought to make a new challenge in the area and do something different.”

The first immediate challenge they faced was operating the business in the midst of a global recession as well as the closure of nearby Brewers Quay.

Mr Oakley noted it was “quite difficult” to trade but persevered and built up a glowing reputation among residents and tourists. 

He admitted the secret to running a “successful” café was its homemade food and turning the venue into somewhere they would want to visit. 

Mr Oakley said: “We tried to run the café as somewhere we would want to go to. All the cakes, sandwiches and other food was delivered to the store be made by ourselves. 

“We have been doing this for 10 years and I think it was a big success.”

Their 10 years have seen numerous changes and events, including the 2012 Olympics and most recently the temporary closure of the harbourside to traffic.

The pair had made their minds up about retiring this year – but wanted to reopen in July after lockdown restrictions were eased during the summer. 

Mr Oakley called the period “stressful” due to the enforced changes made to the café, such as reduced seating. He remarked they did all they could do capitalise on the influx of tourists before winding down the business. 

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Dorset Cream Tea. Fruity Scone with Clotted Cream and Strawberries Preserve £4.20 in Weymouth, Dorset, England. Another Delicious English Classic; just yummy and a must try! 5/5 Top marks for Cream Tea in this small Coffee House by the Quayside. #felixgastrodiary #yummyness #deliciousness #instagram #theivycoffeehouse #englishfoodie

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Mr Oakley said: “We opened in July when the Government said that restaurants and cafés could reopen their doors so that was when we are usually at our busiest. 

“The first week or so after reopening was quite worrying but after that period, people were arriving and it was busy.

“The reduced turnover was due to the reduced seating. Due to social distancing measures, we had to cut the number of seats inside and outside the café. 

“There’s only so much we could have done.”

Owing their popularity and success to their loyal customers, the retiring Mr Oakley paid tribute to their “quite genuine and really nice” customers and tourists.

He said: “I would like to thank the public for their support. They have made this café a big success. 

“We are very grateful to our customers and we wish them all the best.”