THE owner of a much-loved Southend restaurant with stunning seafront views hopes it will be taken on as a family business after it was listed on the market for £400,000.

Toulouse Restaurant, in Western Esplanade, Westcliff, is a modern bar and restaurant with a French-inspired menu and beach views.

The business was opened 16 years ago on a site which was previously a Victorian shelter and public toilets.

This is where the name Toulouse came from after replacing “two loos”.

Colin Thorne, 77, has owned the business for the last 16 years and is now retiring.

He said: “It is the right time to retire, I am 78 this year.

“It has been good over the years. We have so many regular customers and it is a business that has held its own.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to make to be honest, as it isn’t hard for anyone to get out of hospitality when it is time.

“I hope it carries on as a family restaurant serving quality food with fresh ingredients.

“I can’t see why it can’t carry on as it is. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Regular Chris Johnson said: “This place is lovely.

“The food is great and the welcome is warm. I really hope any new owner keeps the feel of the place.”

The business is on the market for offers in the region of £400,000. According to the estate agents Ayers and Cruiks, it can serve around 80 covers.

The estate agent adds: “This is a modern seafront bar and restaurant with a French-inspired menu, banquette seating and fantastic views over the beach and Thames Estuary.

“The restaurant has been well maintained throughout and offers a private dining area with seating for 24 with bi-fold doors across the whole area and air conditioning.

“The main restaurant offers another 58 covers and during the summer months, offers a takeaway serving hatch onto Western Esplanade with additional outside seating area.”

The restaurant currently opens from Tuesday to Sunday.