THE couple behind a new “warm and vibrant” Italian cocktail bar are celebrating after the first month of business proved a huge hit.

Lee Munyard, 40, and his fiancé Cristina, 35, launched Cristi’s Bar in Billericay High Street on September 30 and have been welcoming hordes of punters ever since.

Despite Lee, better known by his DJ name Lee Charles, working in hospitality for 20 and Cristina for 15 years, they were apprehensive at first to take the plunge to start a business due to not having experience in that field. But they are now “really enjoying” it.

Echo: Happy - customers in Cristi's BarHappy - customers in Cristi's Bar (Image: Cristi's Bar)

Hundreds of people have stepped through the doors since to enjoy the “vibrant, warm and welcoming experience”, to guzzle on ice-cold alcoholic beverages and feast on bar food.

Lee said: “Since we opened, the reception from Billericay residents and beyond has been fantastic, leaving us overwhelmed and relieved.

“Each day, customers are praising us on the quality of the food, drink and customer service, which is just so lovely.

Echo: Smiles - guests in Cristi's BarSmiles - guests in Cristi's Bar (Image: Cristi's Bar)

“At first, Cristina and I were quite apprehensive about doing it because we’ve never run a business before and were worried about it not working out.

“But the sheer load of compliments has reassured us, and we’re striving to keep the positivity going.

“Big thanks to everyone for your support.”

Echo: Owners- Lee and CristinaOwners- Lee and Cristina (Image: Lee Munyard)

The building previously operated as Momo Lounge, which took over from Pasha’s Lounge. Before that, it was the White Hart Inn.

Echo: Replaced - Pasha Lounge and ShishaReplaced - Pasha Lounge and Shisha (Image: Google Maps)

It is here where customers can tipple on their most popular £12 cocktail called pink dragon, which consists of pink lemonade vodka, sicilian lemonade, dragon fruit and mango cooler.

Echo: Drink - pink dragonDrink - pink dragon (Image: Cristi's Bar)

In addition, their £17 parma pizza is also a hit, with toppings including tomatoes, parma ham, rocket, burrata cheese and olive oil.

Echo: Food - parma pizzaFood - parma pizza (Image: Cristi's Bar)

Lee added: “The secret is working hard, always going above and beyond and having a smile.

“Cristina does this so well, hence her being the star of the show.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved.”

The cocktail bar is shut on Monday, open from midday to 10pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, with the closing extended to 2am on Friday and Saturday. Sunday starts at 11am and finishes at 10pm.