A WELL-loved restaurant has become a casualty of the coronavirus crisis after more than 40 years of trading.

Isabel’s Restaurant, at Poole’s Ashley Cross, did not reopen after the first coronavirus lockdown last year.

The Station Road business will shortly be put into voluntary liquidation.

Portland Business Recovery, which will handle the liquidation, said: “Despite having a fine reputation and loyal customer base, who were attracted by the unique atmosphere and the quality of its French and Mediterranean style food, trading profitably was difficult through the challenges of Brexit uncertainty and rising costs.

“Plans were always to develop the offering over time and attempts were made by the director to increase footfall and sales by obtaining planning to renovate and add a new kitchen and extend with a secondary dining area to increase capacity, but this was much delayed.”

Restaurants were allowed to reopen after last year’s initial Covid lockdown, but with social distancing in place. Chancellor Rishi Sunak sought to subsidise the sector through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme last August.

But Isabel’s proprietor Damian Williams decided trading would not be viable under the restrictions imposed by government.

He had hoped the regulations would ease before Christmas, but a second wave of Covid-19 infections led to tighter controls and then the latest lockdown.

“Consequently, the director has reluctantly concluded that the business is no longer viable and with much sadness has closed the doors for the last time,” Portland said.

Employees are being helped to make claims to the Redundancy Payments Office.

Customers who have paid deposits or bought vouchers are being advised of their rights to claim from credit card providers.

Mike Fortune, director of Portland Business Recovery, said: “Sadly, the hospitality sector has been badly hit during the pandemic with three lockdowns and significant restrictions placed upon restaurants in the intervening period.

“Despite the government support through the furlough scheme, grants and the various loan schemes available the situation for many hospitality businesses is bleak.

“Isabel’s is unfortunately one of the many casualties. It is truly unfortunate when a well-established business, that has potentially served three generations of the local community, is forced to close its doors through no fault of its own,” he added.

Mike Fortune and Carl Faulds of Portland are expected to be officially named as liquidators later this month.

A report yesterday found the UK lost around 6,000 licensed premises last year, including restaurants, pubs and social clubs

Consultants CGA and business advisory firm AlixPartners warned that “thousands more casualties will follow”.