A FISH and chip restaurant is due to open at Poole Quay in the coming months as a well-known family business closes its doors.

Chain restaurant Rockfish will take over the Purbeck Pottery building on the quayside after proprietors Philip and Sheena Barnes made a decision to retire.

Mr Barnes has spent some 43 years working at the pottery. The building must be vacated by early February.

He said: “We’re coming up for retirement now, and we’ve decided to do that a couple of years earlier than we had anticipated.

“When Rockfish came to us with their suggestion for the building, we decided it was the right time for us to step back.

“We felt the company really want to enhance the quayside. They’re not planning on pulling down the building, but investing in it and making it really lovely. That was important to us both.”

Rockfish has a number of restaurants around the south coast. The restaurant group, which was founded and is run by well-known seafood chef Mitch Tonks, first submitted proposals to Poole council last year.

As part of the planning application, the company says the building will be fully refurbished as part of a £1.75m investment.

No major changes to the façade are proposed as it is situated in the Town Centre Conservation Area.

A large, open-plan dining area with a small bar is planned. Company bosses also propose to build a staircase for access to mezzanine-level seating.

Rockfish serves traditional fish and chips. It also offers a range of seafood, including whole seabass and prawns with garlic butter.

Mr Barnes said: “We love this building, and we love Poole Quay.

“I’ve been here since 1976 - the business was initially started by my father and a colleague, both of whom originally worked at Poole Pottery.

“They believed the future of pottery was stoneware, rather than earthenware, and that’s what they started to make.”

In the past 20 years, production of pottery has closed and the business has primarily become a gift shop.

“My wife Sheena has been the driving force of its success in that respect,” Mr Barnes said.

“It would have been very different without her.”