THE owners of a much-loved restaurant are retiring after 50 years of selling fish and chips.

Tony Shiarlis and wife Mary have been running the Melrose restaurant on Brighton seafront for half a century.

But they are now ready for a rest after a lifetime of dishing up some of the best fish the city has to offer.

The Argus:

Yesterday, friends, family, and devoted customers gathered at the restaurant near Regency Square for one last supper.

Asked if he was sad to be leaving the salt and vinegar behind, 80-year-old Tony said: “I’m fine, I’m ready to retire.

“When I started selling fish and chips, it cost just two shillings. The West Pier was still open and people used to come in from there.”

Tony began working in the restaurant as a waiter in 1964 before taking over the business in 1969.

The family-owned business is run with his wife Mary, 71.

The building used to be a cinema called The Pandora Gallery.

It showed the first film to a paying public, outside London, in 1896.

Together, Tony and Mary turned the venue into a staple of the Brighton seaside with a reputation for reasonably priced quality food.

Mary said: “We have lots of wonderful customers.

“We have seen parents come in with their children, and then those children come in with their children.

“Three generations and we are still going strong.

“We just want to thank all our customers for everything.”

Sharon Willard has been a customer at Melrose for nearly 25 years.

The Argus:

She said: “They will be greatly missed and I wish them every bit of good luck.

“I hope they get to do everything they’ve always wanted to for all those years of dedication.”

Don Parker, a customer of more than 30 years, said: “Not much has changed in these years apart from the carpet.

The Argus:

“I’m sure they’ll be back in here after retirement.”

The business is being taken over by The Regency restaurant next door.

Staff there said they wished Tony and Mary well in their retirement.