A NEW independent Italian restaurant is set to open in place of a popular Chinese restaurant in Rayleigh High Street.

Choi Yin closed suddenly last month and the restaurant has remained empty since. 

However, a sign has now been placed on the window announcing that an Italian restaurant will open – sparking excitement that the site won’t stay empty for too long. 

According to Richard Linden, Wheatley ward Liberal Democrat councillor, it “will be independently run and an initial opening was discussed for January”.

Once open, it will join fellow Italian High Street restaurants Prezzo, Gambero D’oro, Pizza Express and La Romantica.

Jack Lawmon, chairman of Rochford Independent Group-run council, said: “It is always a delight to hear empty premises being reused and the High Street getting more options.

“In addition to that, the young people have struggled with getting jobs, and I hope it will get them on the career ladder.

“It is very positive. I am all for it, and I will be there when it opens.

“I wish the new owners of the site all the very best of luck for the future.”

Choi Yin had operated in the High Street for an extended period and the closure has been met with sadness by residents. 

Matthew Scott, 46, of Eastern Road, Rayleigh, said: “I will miss it a lot.

“I thought it would stay the Choi Yin but have new management.

“I have been going to the Choi Yin since the 90s. Best Chinese food I have ever had. I used to mainly have chicken curry and prawn toast.

“The staff were friendly.  They knew me in there as I used to go in there a lot. 

“I used to go in there nearly once a week with my friend from 2000 to 2014. when it was a restaurant.

“The service was really quick in the takeaway – under five minutes to get an order.”

Another Rayleigh resident took to Facebook to say: “Do we really need another one when we already have some great Italian restaurants in Rayleigh?”