Fans of popular Falmouth pub The 'Front have been left distraught after the owners revealed last night that they are selling up.

In a statement released on the pub's Facebook page last night, owners Sean McGee and Emma Phillips said that with new social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future they feared it would "change the kind of place our little pub has always been."

As a result they have decided not to reopen but instead sell the lease for someone else to "start a new era at The 'Front."

The pub on Custom House Quay has been managed for the last 15 years by Matt Reay, who in that time has overseen it win a number of awards including becoming the first pub ever to win the CAMRA Kernow Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year double, in 2018. It was also runner Pub of the Year nationally in 2011. 

Last year Packet readers voted it Town Pub of the Year in the Packet Pub of the Year Awards.

Read more: Packet Town Pub of the Year 2019 winner revealed

In their statement Sean and Emma said: "We have spent a lot of time thinking about our little boozer and what it means to us, and of course to you.

"With Matt Reay's passion, hard work and commitment along with all his amazing staff over the past 15 years, The 'Front has been the perfect hub for fantastic beer, great atmosphere and real community.

"We feel that opening under the new guidelines will change the kind of place our little pub has always been and ringing that bell on the 20th March felt like the end of an incredible era.

"So, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided not to reopen our doors but to sell our lease for someone else to start a new era at The 'Front.

"This will come as a shock to many of you but we feel that it is our time and our memories of our days here are absolutely perfect and we wouldn't want them any other way.

"We will be eternally grateful to Matt for making this pub so special to us and to everyone who visits. His loyalty and energy is second to none and will bring him great success in his future along with his lovely wife, Jess. We will always be there for you both!"

Falmouth Packet:

The 'Front owner Sean McGee and manager Matt Reay winning an award in 2011

They went on to thank all their staff, past and present, who helped make The 'Front "the huge success that it has been" with their "caring natures, diamond characters and super powers to never let a crazy busy day - or festival - take you down."

They also thanked their suppliers and patrons, describing them as "our crazy beautiful locals and our regular visitors from afar."

The couple added: "You have made our pub a family home and we will never forget a single one of you. Thank you for always coming back to the 'Front."

Sean took on The 'Front when he was still running The Grapes in Falmouth, where Emma was manager.

Matt was also working at The Grapes and moved over to manage The 'Front, and there was a crossover for around seven or eight years. 

The couple said their success was "really down to Matt", with his passion for beer, adding: "Without him it wouldn't have been the same." 

They also said their great sadness was now for their staff who had "all been amazing for years." 

Falmouth Packet:

The 'Front closed up today

The news has caused dismay on social media, with fans speaking of their sadness over the loss of an "amazing old fashioned boozer", with one person describing it as "hands down one of the the best pubs I have ever been."

One person wrote: "We've all been so lucky to have experienced that golden atmosphere of happy people, beautiful beer, good staff, live music and bringing your own food."

Manager Matt had previously planned to continue running The 'Front with his team while at the same time also taking over The Moth and Moon - Falmouth's former Masons Arms - in Killigrew Street himself.

He said due to the nature of the pub, with its small rooms that did not lend themselves to social distancing, he did not plan to reopen as a pub on July 4 but instead keep running it as a takeaway 'off licence' for the time being, where draft beers can be taken away in containers, and also expand the range into more bottles and craft beers.