POLICE have dropped an investigation into a fire which destroyed a restaurant last summer as its owners battle to rebuild their business.

Coast Bistro, in The Ridgeway, Chalkwell, was broken into, had alcohol stolen and was torched on July 3.

Police launched an investigation, but have made no arrests for suspected arson, burglary and now say the case is closed.

The fire left the owners Sue Goodman and Darren Payne totally devastated, but they are working hard to open again.

They were in the early days of their new venture together having only opened six months earlier.

Now work is ongoing to repair the roof at the back of the restaurant where the blaze started.

It wrecked the kitchen, store rooms, all their stock, toilets and offices.

The main restaurant seating area was spared thanks to a recently installed wall and fire doors. The upstairs flat was also unaffected although the residents had to be evacuated.

Sue, from Hadleigh, said: “We had put in the wall, as previously the cooking area was open plan and could be seen by customers.

“It was fortunate we did, or it would have taken the entire restaurant and possibly upstairs too. It was tragic enough, but could have taken someone’s life as people live upstairs.”

Southend Standard:

Ongoing: Work is ongoing to repair the roof at the back of the restaurant 

Business was booming for the restaurant and the couple said their customers and neighbours had been kind and supportive since the fire.

They are unsure when they will be able to reopen, but hope it will be within six weeks.

Sue said: “We couldn’t believe how well it was going. We were living our dream and it was taken away from us.”

- Anyone with information about the fire can call Southend CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.