The owner of a popular café is hanging up her apron after nine years. 

Maria Winters is a familiar face to many as the force behind Maria's Pantry. 

Based at Mangerton Mill, the café is a huge hit among locals and has a loyal following thanks to its tasty food, warm service and unique location. 

But Maria, 56, is ready for a new chapter and is selling up. She hopes to spend more time with children Josh, 27, and Loren, 32, and and her grandson. 

"It's something I've been thinking about for a little while," she said. "We've had a great run and, despite Covid, we've still had a good few years since. 

"I have a 10-year-old grandson I'd like to spend much more time with. I don't get to see my family as much as I would like and there is a lot I've missed out on. It was a difficult decision to make but the right one."

The news has been met with sadness, but Maria has also been inundated with support. 

"A lot of the customers were shocked and surprised when I told them," said Maria. "We have such loyal customers who, obviously given where we are, go out of their way to come here. They said they don't know where they'll go now but they understand."

Maria's Pantry started life in Salwayash before moving to the picturesque setting of the 300-year-old mill in 2019.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

It scooped Bridport & Lyme Regis News café of the year in 2021, as voted for by our readers. 

"The customers have always been at the heart of what I do and I'll really miss our regulars," Maria said. 

"Holidaymakers come back year after year and we love seeing them when they're down. The locals really keep the morale up when they come to us over winter when it can be a bit quiet where we are. They've become more than customers, they've become our friends - they'll often come out into the kitchen for a chat. I'll miss that."

Maria plans to shut up shop after service on New Year's Eve. It is hoped the business will reopen next spring under new management. 

Her dedicated team of three have secured new jobs ahead of the cafe's closure and Maria herself has her eyes on a new venture - although, for now, she remains tight-lipped. 

"There is something new on the horizon," she said. "I hope to share that in the future."