A HAMPSHIRE couple have spoken of their heartbreak after Covid ruined their restaurant business.

Sara Pollard-Dambach and her partner Oli Dambach, from Swanmore, took over the former Ask pizza restaurant in Fareham's West Street in July last year.

They rebranded the venue as McDambi's of Fareham, named after their catering company McDambi Catering and Events, which they started in 2019.

However they have been on a rollercoaster of a journey, and after a difficult six months, both personally and professionally, they have decided to call time on their venture.

Now, Sara is encouraging people to visit before the venue's last day on January 19.

She said: "As quickly as you can succeed you can also fail. A few short months into our new lease, Covid took the very thing we had built.

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"The footfall, money and dreams just didn't materialise at the new venture.

"We would like to thank everyone for their support.

Daily Echo:

"It's been an absolute pleasure serving the local community and we hope they all come and support us one last time."

The pair's business started in September 2019 with a food franchise and wedding business at Seacourt Tennis Club on Hayling Island.

When Covid hit in March 2020, they moved to a café, trading out of a serving window.

Oliver's parents Chris and Rosemarie Dambach moved over from Switzerland to help with the business and by August 2020 they were running The Roebuck Inn in Wickham, where they spent 11 months bringing the pub back to life and generating jobs for 12 more people.

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Led by the family, the staff became the centre of the business, as they rallied to raise money for charity, helped search for missing dogs, set up a domestic abuse charity and provided a hot drinks and a delivery service for vulnerable people.

When they left the pub in June 2021, the whole team followed to work at McDambi's.

It's not all been business news, the family has also seen a new arrival, with Sara giving birth to Ivy-Mae on November 9.

Daily Echo:

She said: "I went into premature labour at 28 weeks so had to leave work which is probably another reason the restaurant failed.

"She was finally born at 37 weeks after I spent a lot of time in hospital trying to keep her in, weighing 5.15 ounces."

Sara and Oli are now looking to the future with their family, including their two other children Livvy, 19 months, and Chloe, 12.

Sara added: "We will stay in Swanmore as we love it there. Oli is now looking for a head chef job to support us as a family.

"We bid you all a sad farewell."

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Kimberley Barber