The owner of a popular Bexhill ice cream parlour said ‘the time has come’ to close his business after 37 years.
Di Paolo’s, in 5 Marina, Bexhill, will close on Sunday, October 29, as John Di Paolo and his wife Christine embark on retirement.
John said: “We have been here for 37 years and built a very popular customer base right the way through since we started in 1981.
“A lot have passed away now but we still have customers coming in today who came here when we first took over the business.
“The time has come for us to retire. I am 61 now and I don’t want to leave it too long before I step away.
“It will be very sad to leave here but we will keep in touch no doubt.”
John’s connection with 5 Marina, Bexhill, stretches back to 1946 when his cousins – the Capaldi family – purchased the premises and renamed it the Criterion Cafe.
They owned the business until 1981 before selling it to John and Christine who renamed it Di Paolo’s.
Before opening his own business, John had a background in catering from working alongside his uncle at Dimarco’s in Wellington Place, Hastings, which his grandfather Lorenzo Dimarco started in 1920.
A third generation in this line, John said ice cream has been ‘very important’ to the family businesses due to their Italian heritage.
He said: “Our ice cream has been very successful and won a number of national awards.
“It has been a tradition for three generations in my family and was something my son had carried on for a time.
“However, my sons Luigi and Pasquale want to step away from the catering business and don’t want to carry it on.
“I’m hoping someone with some similar experience will take over.”
During the 37 years he has been based in Bexhill, John thinks the town has only changed a small amount.
He added: “There is still a strong independent shopping presence in the town with particular focus on good service at reasonable prices.
“There are a lot of people who come to Bexhill to retire and I think that’s why it hasn’t changed so much. I’m not saying that has made the place better or worse but it has been pretty stable throughout.
“The people here are very traditional. I still have customers since I started in 1981. They’ve been coming here for 37 years and that is great for our trading. Some of these people are fantastic friends of mine and we are all part of one big family.”
John plans to continue living in Little Common while also spending time at his second home in Italy with his wife Christine.
However, before he closes Di Paolo’s for the final time, he hopes to sell the premises.
He said: “We have had a number of interested parties get in contact and we hope the premises will be sold as a going concern. “If anyone wants to enquire about purchasing the premises, they can call me on 01424 210337.”
In a Facebook post announcing the closure, Di Paolo’s said: “The family would like to thank all their regular customers for the continued support over the years.
“We have met some fantastic people and made so many friends. It has been a pleasure to serve the community with wonderful food and hand made ice creams.”