A RESTAURANT boss fears he may have to lay off staff because a phone line blunder has cost him customers.

Riccardo Burzotta, 38, says customers trying to book a table at La Pizzeria, in London Road, Westcliff, have been unable to get through to the restaurant on the phone after a new line being installed to an upstairs flat on November 26.

Mr Burzotta only found out about the blunder when customers started going to the restaurant in person to book, telling him they couldn’t get through on his number.

He claims its cost him a huge amount in takings as his number is featured on menus and half of his business is done through takeaway orders.

He said: “I didn’t know until a customer came in and said he couldn’t phone me. BT were working on the flat upstairs and managed to disconnect my phone number. The guy showed me his phone number and I realised it was mine.

“I’ve been building this business up from scratch for four years. I’ve had to work hard especially through the recession, doing up to 15-hour days.

Since BT cut my line I have lost 65 per cent of my business.

“We were looking forward to Christmas coming up, but this has been a nightmare. Talk Talk, our provider, said they would get it sorted within five working days, but it’s been three weeks.”

Mr Burzotta was given a temporary number which he has been able to place on Trip Advisor, but all his other advertising, including the menus, had his old number on it.

He added: “This has sent my blood pressure up. I have been on the phone to these people for hours.

“It’s absolutely heart breaking for me after building up my business which is 50 per cent takeway. I have almost had to lay staff off.”

Talk Talk has apologised to Mr Burzotta and said they would be investigating to resolve the problem. BT said they were urgently investigating the matter.

Southend-based Jeffries solicitors are acting for Mr Burzotta.

Mark Rothman from the firm said: “If Talk Talk or BT admit their negligence, or he is able to prove it in court, he will be entitled to significant damages for his losses.

“This is an awful situation where he has worked hard to build up a business, and that business has been hit hard through no fault of his own.”

The restauarnt can be contacted by calling 01702 344639.