THE OWNER of a popular town centre cafe has revealed her devastation after being forced to close the business. 

The 35-year-old IL Cappuccino, on East Row, Darlington, is renowned as one of the town's best spots for coffee, a sandwich or just a chat with locals. 

But despite its popular customer engagement the cafe says it has been forced to close due to the redevelopment of Darlington Market. 

Current owner Lynne Pearce described receiving the closure order as a "crushing blow" and will close its doors for the last time this Saturday. 

"I've been here since 2008 and I'm only the second owner after the founders first opened it in 1986," she said.

"The Market need me out because they're refurbishing the building so they asked me to vacate. 

"I had to chase them to ask what was going on because I was originally told I would be ok to stay open until December, but then they gave me a licence for three months and said they won't be extending it.

"I asked them if they were offering me anything else and they said no."

Read more: Look inside Darlington's street food market

The Northern Echo: Customers were shocked after hearing of the cafe's closureCustomers were shocked after hearing of the cafe's closure

Having been forced out, IL Cappuccino has now been left homeless and Lynne expressed her regret at not having any plans to rehome the much-loved business. 

The mother-of-two took over the cafe after moving to Darlington from Catterick, North Yorkshire, and said working in the town had been a huge part of her life and she relished every day serving the public. 

"I'm here six days a week and it's a huge part of my life," she said inside the cafe on one of its final days. 

"It was the ideal situation here; a lot of the customers I get are older and disabled and the whole space suits them. The outside area is very popular as well with taxi drivers. 

"When the market was in the square we were very popular because of the bus trips that would come to the town but we've recently built up a strong local clientele of people who are happy and really enjoy coming here.

"I don't wake up in the morning and say 'I hate my job' I enjoy coming to work every day."

Read more: Darlington market redevelopment: Traders have their say

Customers paid tribute to the "little gem" of a cafe with many sharing nostalgic stories of their experiences and the customer-favourite cheese savoury sandwiches. 

Inside the cafe today, much of the interior and the menu remains the same to its origin in 1986. 

Lynne added: "I never changed anything with the cafe and I always said 'I wouldn't fix something that's not broken'. 

"I'm glad the original owners aren't here to see this because they would be distraught. 

"People have been shocked and absolutely gutted that we're closing. A lot of the older generation are comfortable to come in themselves and you befriend them all. 

"I've loved working here because I've been able to do what I want."

What are your memories of IL Cappuccino? let us know in the comments below. 

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