SHOCKED staff were told they had lost their jobs at one of St Helens’ most popular eateries - by text message.
Bosses at The Country Larder, a fixture in the Hardshaw Centre for nearly 29 years, sent a message to staff on Monday evening (October 8) to say they had ceased trading, citing “the present trading climate” for the closure.
The text message, seen the St Helens Reporter, was sent by manager Carlton Lowe to experienced members of The Country Larder’s 13-strong staff team.
It read: “It is with great regret that Millsflow Ltd (The Country Larder) ceased trading as of 5pm on October 8, 2012. All enquiries are to be made to Montpelier Professional (Lancs) Ltd, Charter House, Pittman Way, Preston.
“Once again it is with great regret but we are unable to continue in the present trading climate.”
A group of full and part-time staff turned up at the long-running cafe in disbelief yesterday morning, and ended up fielding questions from confused customers.
Two of the employees had given more than 50 years service to the cafe combined - with one, David Page, having worked at The Country Larder since it opened back in March 1984.
Speaking on behalf of all the staff, he said: “This has come totally out of the blue. There was no warning whatsoever and to break the news by text message just sums it up.
“Nobody said a word about this when people were in work on Monday. They just said ‘see you tomorrow’.”
Mr Page added: “None of us know what to do now. We’ve called the number that we’ve been told to ring but they didn’t know anything about it.
“All we can do now is go to the job centre, the tax office and to sign on.”
A spokesman for Montpelier Professional (Lancs) Ltd confirmed to the Reporter yesterday morning that the new development was news to them.
Despite the Reporter making several attempts to speak to Mr Lowe yesterday, he was unavailable for comment.