THE young owners of a Penzance café face a less than merry Christmas and far from prosperous new year after metal barriers were put up, restricting pedestrian access to their premises.
James and Nina MacLean, of Mackerel Sky, describe the move to barricade off the top of New Street on health and safety grounds as a "real body blow".
On Monday afternoon, without any prior warning, Cormac workmen put up two metal barriers and 'Road Closed' signs, preventing anyone in Market Jew Street from visiting for a coffee or meal.
The only alternative access is to take a detour of several hundred yards to approach the café from the Exchange Gallery end of the street.
The work was carried out because of safety fears over the long-standing bulge in the wall of the historic Star Inn across the road from Mackerel Sky.
"I couldn't believe it," said Mr MacLean. "There was absolutely no warning at all.
"That lump in the wall of the Star has been there for at least 10 years and now they decide to close down the street on health and safety grounds."
Mr MacLean says the closure could not have happened at a worse time.
"We could lose £10,000 to 13,000 over the next two weeks," he added.
"The Christmas period is absolutely integral to our business and are our busiest two weeks of the year before we close for a month in January.
"This has come as a real body blow – at least half our trade is from footfall direct from Market Jew Street, but Cornwall Council just doesn't seem to respect small businesses in Penzance."
Other businesses affected by the road closure are Harris's Restaurant, Marita's Hair and Beauty Salon, The Cycle Centre and the New Street Gallery, while the elderly residents from St Michael's Cottages also face a detour to get to the town centre.
However scaffolding is due to be put up today which will not only shore up the problem wall but also provide a safe pedestrian walkway.
A spokesman from Star Pubs and Clubs, which owns The Star's leasehold, said: "Due to the recent deterioration of the outer wall, it has now become dangerous and we are therefore taking evasive action to ensure it is made safe as quickly as possible.
"The pub wall will then need to be demolished and rebuilt which may take a number of weeks.
"In spring 2014, we intend to undertake a major refurbishment of the whole pub, subject to planning consent.
"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to the local community as a result of the wall's collapse and wish to thank them for working with us to resolve the issue."
Cornwall Council confirmed that it had met with representatives of the Star Inn to agree a schedule of emergency works.