A NEW seafront restaurant has been left £15,000 out of pocket after a smash and grab raid in the early hours of the morning.

Staff at Namaste Village Restaurant on Southend seafront were horrified to find “smashed windows and doors” when they arrived on Sunday morning to open ahead of a busy day of Diwali celebrations.

They found thieves had stolen £15,000 worth of equipment and cash from the business, as well as smashing a TV and ransacking the business.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, the Indian restaurant, which specialises in vegan and vegetarian food, was set to host 250 people and managed to make the evening a success despite the break-in.

Namaste head chef, Dalsukh Jetani, said: “It was really stressful because all the systems are on the tablets and we can’t take the orders and bookings for 250 people, it was really terrible. I was especially worried about our 250 orders and guests, it was a special day for them, we didn’t want to ruin their day and our day was already ruined, it was very very stressful.”

Looters stole three tablets, a Macbook, £5,000 worth of cash, a laptop bag, alcohol and destroyed a 76inch TV screen by smashing a fork into the screen.

Police have successfully returned the stolen tablets and Macbook, but Mr Jetani claims the stolen cash is still missing.

He said: “Right now I’m really stressed about how we open the restaurant, what is the guarantee of our safety?”

Mr Jetani added that he believes the suspects are two minutes’ walk away from the business and fears for staff, but thanks the local community for their support as the business persevered with their Diwali plans, endeavouring to serve all the guests they could.

“People are supportive, we were fully booked when we were new and people will help us and I want to say thanks to people who came for Diwali and apologise if we ruined their experience,” Mr Jetani added. “People came but we were stressed and half-hearted, the experience was so difficult, but we kept open.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Officers spoke with the victim later that morning, acting swiftly to find and recover the stolen items at a nearby address and promptly arresting three people.

“A 49-year-old man and a 61-year-old man, both from Southend, were arrested on suspicion of burglary and questioned in custody. They have since been bailed, with strict conditions attached prohibiting attendance at the address of the burglary, while our investigation continues. A 58-year-old man arrested as part of our enquiries will face no further action.”