A POPULAR restaurant and tea room which shut suddenly is insolvent and will be put into liquidation, the Advertiser can reveal.

Staff and customers of Annie’s Kitchen and Tea Rooms in Kimbridge were shocked by its sudden closure on Tuesday.

Now it has been confirmed by insolvency specialists that the business is to be liquidated.

Robert Day, from Robert Day and Company licensed insolvency practitioners, which is handling the case, said: “The company is insolvent and will be placed into liquidation.

“Creditors have to be contacted and nothing can be confirmed at this stage. I can advise that I will issue a statement as soon as I am in a position to do so.”

He could not confirm claims made to the Advertiser that staff – who are thought to number about 15 – had been paid all outstanding wages.

Customers with bookings or unpsent gift vouchers were left counting the cost after the sudden closure, which was initially blamed on “unforeseen circumstances”.

It is understood the restaurant had about a dozen tables already booked for Christmas Day meals, and there were other bookings for the run-up to the festive season.

Staff due to be working on Tuesday were informed of the closure via Facebook.

Owner David Ramos posted: “It saddens me to inform you all that due to unforeseen circumstances Annie’s is closed. Sorry for any upset this may cause.

“Thank you for all your efforts and I wish you all the very best for the future.”

A sign on the door read: “Annie’s Kitchen and Tea Rooms is now closed. We are sorry for any inconvenience.” It gave an email address for customers with bookings who had paid deposits to claim refunds.

The Advertiser emailed the address and a spokesman replied: “We are in the middle of refunding everyone who has paid deposits. We will try and get something done this week.”

Mr Ramos was unavailable for comment.

A member of staff, whom the Advertiser is not naming, said: “I was surprised. We were told over Facebook. Very classy. It would have been nice to have been given a bit more notice so I could look for a job elsewhere.

“I feel sorry for my colleagues there who have been left in the lurch as well. Quite frankly, they deserve better than that.”

Customers arriving at the restaurant at lunchtime on Tuesday were dismayed to find it locked up.

Tables and chairs inside were still set out ready for service.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “I’m not surprised it’s closed. It’s changed since it got its new owners.”

On review website Trip Advisor, Annie’s averages four out of five stars from 267 customers. It was rated excellent by 46 per cent, but only three and a half stars out of five for value.

Reviews date back several years during which Annie’s has changed hands many times.

The farm shop and butchers Owton’s, next to Annie’s, is separately owned and continues to remain open for business.