One of Carlisle’s best-loved restaurants has closed its doors for the last time.

Diners in the city will have been unaware that their last visit to The Shabby Scholar before the coronavirus lockdown would be their last.

But the Carlyle’s Court eatery has now revealed that The Shabby Scholar - at least in the format it is currently known - will not reopen following the coronavirus pandemic.

“We thought now was a good time to change things up,” said owner Sam Norman, who also owns the Dutch Uncle which is opposite The Shabby Scholar and the recently-opened Devonshire Street restaurant Maggie Elliott & the Three Pillars.

“A few years ago we trialled Kitchen Geek, which was pre-packed meals which worked well, but we didn’t have the space to do it.”

The provisional plan is to use The Shabby Scholar building as a space for a new re-branded cafe, which will not serve alcohol and will offer a more healthy food range.

There is also a plan to deliver pre-packed meals to people’s doors, which will be healthier than the restaurant’s previous offerings.

“We were doing a similar sort of thing with Shabby as we have been doing with Maggie Elliot in terms of dishes," said Mr Norman, "so we decided it was time for a change.”

The announcement that the bar and restaurant is closing has been met with both sadness and appreciation from its cohort of loyal customers.

“It is really sad,” admitted Mr Norman. “We have focussed a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears into it. We love the building, we just thought that we have three restaurants that do similar things.

“Everyone is looking forward, it has given us all a new lease of life.”

Although the restaurant has closed for good, Mr Norman says its spirit will live on: “The Shabby isn’t going to die and fall out of sight, we see Maggie Elliots as a new and larger version of Shabby.”

Customers have been at the heart of everything at the restaurant since it opened seven-and-a-half years ago.

“I want to say thank you as many times as possible. Every penny spent, whether it was a few pence or a large group booking, we appreciated, because someone has worked hard for that.

“We tried to appreciate customers and ensure they had a really good time.”

The restaurant tapped into a gap in the market, according to Mr Norman.

“What worked for Circle Bar and the Thin White Duke, we wanted to do something similar on the other side of the city.

“We tried to offer tapas but not as you know it, with things like haggis. Offering something a bit different as much as possible.

“We wanted to make the atmosphere like you were in a living room.”