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Lemon Tree restaurant to close after 22 years

By Paul Winspear

Restaurants, Bishops Stortford. The Lemon Tree, Water Lane.Pic: Vikki Lince
Restaurants, Bishops Stortford. The Lemon Tree, Water Lane.Pic: Vikki Lince

One of Bishop's Stortford's finest restaurants is to shut after 22 years in business.

The family-run Lemon Tree in Water Lane, which opened in 1996, will be closed by Christmas, although no firm date has been set yet.

The restaurant is a three-way partnership between head chef Luke Fishpool, his wife Sue and Luke’s father, Paul Fishpool, who owns the freehold.

The eatery employs 15 staff, most of them part-time.

Luke, 51, said that “the lifetime of the restaurant has come to its natural conclusion”.

He said: “It’s time to move on and explore other opportunities whilst I still can.

“We would like to thank our very loyal customers, staff and suppliers, many of whom are true friends, for their support through the years.

“It has not been an easy decision, however the time is right.”

Sue added: “Our staff have been very understanding and supportive of our decision.”

Sue took a step back from the business following a cancer diagnosis in 2013. She works for Grove Cottage, the London Road home of Mencap in Stortford, as a community fundraiser and volunteer co-ordinator five days a week but is still involved in the restaurant with admin and accounts.

To underline the Lemon Tree’s family-run status, both of Luke and Sue’s children have worked there: Harry in the front of house and Ellie in the kitchen. They have since moved on to pursue their own careers and interests.

The rear of the Lemon Tree site forms part of East Herts Council’s proposed Old River Lane development scheme comprising a new £20m community arts centre, shops, restaurants and homes.

The restaurant is ranked third of 91 in Bishop’s Stortford on online review site TripAdvisor, behind the Prickly Pear Mexican in Hockerill Street and the Shadhona Indian resaturant in South Street. Of the 373 reviewers, 86% rate it excellent or very good.

The Stort Valley Rotary Club holds its meetings there on Tuesday evenings.

The Lemon Tree will continue to trade through the autumn and is expected to be closed by Christmas.

“The exact date is not yet set,” said Luke. “Updates will be posted on our website and Facebook page and within the restaurant itself.”

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