The struggling local economy has forced one of Batemans Bay's most enduring restaurants to close its doors.
Monet’s Café Restaurant closed up shop on Sunday after losing the battle in what owner Bruce Carrick says is the worst year in 13 years of operation.
Winter time in Batemans Bay is always difficult for small local businesses and Mr Carrick said it became impossible for their small café to continue.
“Everything was getting too difficult,” he said. “This is the worst it’s been in 13 years. It’s the worst winter we’ve had.
"It just became too hard to operate.”
Since Monday, Mr Carrick has been in the café cleaning and packing up what was a popular spot for people to meet for a coffee.
He says rent, rising electricity prices and the general economic downturn are to blame.
“Our electricity bills used to be $2000 a quarter. Now it’s $8000 a quarter," he said. "Where do you get the money from? It’s impossible to keep putting the prices up.”
He says the cafe's closure doesn't just put himself and his staff - three permanent positions and a few casuals - out of a job.
“All of our local suppliers are going to suffer to a certain degree,” he said.
The sudden news has shocked the community, and Mr Carrick said phone messages of support from customers had flooded the café’s answering machine.
“They were shocked, but not nearly as much as me,” he said.
Mr Carrick and his wife Jennifer opened Monet’s, a single entity, 13 years ago in a small shop in Orient Street.
“The first year was really hard, as a new business trying to get established and building up clientele and pursuing things I liked doing food-wise," Mr Carrick recalled.
“It was a bit different. I think we filled a niche in the market. It wasn’t fine dining but it wasn’t takeaway.”
He isn’t sure why Monet’s became a well-known local hotspot.
“It just happened, the aim was to do it well and to do good food and create a nice atmosphere, where you can sit and have a sandwich, or just a coffee, or a meal," he said.
“We tried a lot of things, some worked, some didn’t, and we were still doing that up until Sunday.”
They moved into a café three times the size of their old shop about three years ago.
Monet’s pushed for fresh produce, particularly fresh seafood, and was known for its regular art exhibitions and live music.
Mr Carrick said he enjoyed making connections with local artists and musicians, and creating a café that became a focal point in Batemans Bay.
“We’ll miss the customers,” he said.
He says opening up another café is something he will consider but he doesn’t have a definite plan for the future yet.
In the 13 years since they opened, Mr and Mrs Carrick have taken two holidays - and now it’s time for a rest.
“I’ll have a bit of recovery time and think about what my options are,” Mr Carrick said.
“We have to look forward, not back.”