TOWN hall bosses are on the lookout for someone to re-open a popular cafe.

Bolton Council has given prospective operators of the Smithills Tea Room until next week to express their interest in the site, which closed in December.

Customers were shocked when SM Restaurants (North West) Ltd, which operates a number of cafes around Bolton, decided to cease operations at the Smithills Hall cafe before Christmas.

It had first opened on a six-month trial basis in summer 2015, but proved a massive hit with visitors to the historic hall and ran for another 11 months.

Supporters of the venue are now hoping a suitable proposal will be put forward by the council’s April 28 deadline to help rejuvenate the hall, which is currently undergoing restoration work.

Ian Greenhalgh, Smithills resident and chairman of the former Smithills Trust, said: “I was surprised at how popular the tea room became, but the quality it provided was phenomenal.

“There was never a day when it didn’t have a lot of people in there.

“It was the best thing that happened to the hall in a long time.

“It was a truly cracking idea. I don’t know why it was closed because it was always popular. I hope the council are very generous in terms of only wanting a low rent for it.

“It doesn’t matter how much money it makes, it is about getting people to the hall and making the best use of its facilities.

“I don’t think the council is capable of running the cafe on its own, so it should look very favourably on anyone who wants to come in and create some jobs there.

“They would be doing the hall and the people of Bolton a favour.

“Smithills Hall is the jewel in the crown of Bolton, but it is dying on its feet at the moment.”

The council says that it would welcome proposals that promote healthy eating, minimise waste, and consider the visual impact of catering units at the historic hall.

A council spokesman said: “Bolton Council is looking for a new operator to provide a tearoom at Smithills Hall.

“Smithills is one of our most popular visitor attractions, with thousands of visitors a year.

“We are currently redeveloping the hall and spending £500,000 on the restoration of the Devey Wing and the remodelling of the entrance area.

“We are looking for a provider who can help make it an even more popular destination for local residents and visitors.”

The tea room is situated in the existing shop area of the hall and is able to seat around 40 people.

Parties interested in taking over the cafe can get details from Garry Herritty on 01204 338419 and must submit their proposal by 2pm on Friday, April 28.