A HAMPSHIRE businesswoman who set up shop with a £1,000 Government grant has beaten the downturn to create a thriving nautical-themed cafe.

Maria Lewis, owner of Breezes, near Fareham, has created 12 jobs and attracted 30 local suppliers for menu ingredients for her cafe, bistro, deli and gift shop overlooking the coastal village of Hill Head.

Occupying 3,000 sq ft on two floors, the business also sells paintings and landscape photography by Solent artists, both in the cafe and online.

Now a going concern with a freehold valued at a six-figure sum, Breezes has carved out a niche as a friendly, popular destination for diners, art lovers and local surfers.

And Mrs Lewis says much of the success is down to dedicated help and mentoring from Southampton-based MHL, run by business consultant Sue Warden-Owen.

Mrs Lewis, who previously ran a scuba diving training business in Southampton, said: “Sue has enabled me to fulfil my goal of establishing a dream eaterie with local suppliers that is an asset to the community. She brings a no-nonsense approach based on attention to detail across all management disciplines. Thanks to her, I have gained the confidence to really grow the business.”

Breezes was opened in August 2009 following a £1,000 leadership and management grant from the now defunct Skills South East Government agency.

Mrs Warden-Owen said: “It has been a joy to be part of this success story.”