A SOUTHAMPTON restaurant has announced it will permanently close its doors following "difficult times" throughout the pandemic.

Bitterne Balti on Manor Farm Road said in letters to customers that it would be closing down as they failed to recover from the hardships brought on by the pandemic.

The closure has been met with sadness from one Bitterne man who said that "we need small businesses to thrive".

The letter to customers, from Santa and the Bitterne Balti team, said: "We are so very sorry to tell you that we have had to close down the restaurant.

"We have tried so hard over the last couple of years to keep things going but the pandemic has brought us all really difficult times and we just haven't been able to recover.

"Add in the mix our new baby and things have just become untenable.

"We hope you understand our decision.

"We want to thank our loyal customers for your support, friendship and custom over the years and we really hope to cross paths with you all again at some point in the future."

Labour and Co-operative party candidate for Bitterne Park, Tony Bunday, said on social media: "I am really saddened to see the Bitterne Balti - known to many as the Triangle Spice - close. My wife and I were regular customers. It is tough time for our small businesses and shops especially in local shopping centres."

He added: "We need them to thrive. I am a small businessman myself."