A POPULAR restaurant that closed down a week ago has reopened under new ownership.

The Hilltop Diner in London Road, Firsdown, closed with immediate effect last Tuesday with the owners blaming a “disastrous” year and increasing running costs.

On the restaurant’s website, managing director Brian Warren told visitors that the decision was taken “with great sadness”.

He said: “We have done everything we can to keep the business active but we are now in an impossible position because the rent on the property is simply not realistic and is unfair to the business.

“We can no longer afford to run the business with the high costs that are being put on it now. Economic changes in the country are also contributing heavily to this decision. We have continued to try to remedy the issues, but without direct help from the landlord in reducing the rent we have no option but to close.”

The diner, which won a new business award in 2011 at the South Wilts Business of the Year awards, ran several events in connection with local charities.

It supported a regular seniors’ day in Winterslow and held the first UK Take your Dog to Dinner event in February 2011, in conjunction with Dogs Trust Salisbury.

Mr Warren, who lived in a caravan for three years to raise money for the business start-up costs, thanked the diner’s loyal customers, suppliers and charities.

Yesterday the restaurant opened under new ownership.

A spokesman for the new owners, The Venue on the Hilltop Limited, said: “We have been able to negotiate more favourable terms with the landlord and we have simplified the menu.

“We are still maintaining the same great quality of food but by bringing the menu more in line with that of a roadside café, we have been able to reduce the prices by about 30 per cent so customers can now enjoy a breakfast for under a fiver.

“We will be trialling opening hours of, firstly, 8am to 5pm, and then 7am to 4pm, to see what works best. In the summer we will stay open for longer.”

For more information go to thehill topvenue.co.uk or call 01980 863086.