A POP-UP food market at a beautifully restored seafront building has been forced to close less than four months after launching.

But the owners of Shelter Hall Raw in Brighton have promised to continue to refurbish the site over lockdown in a "next phase" for the venue.

The lengthy restoration of the historic site, at the bottom of West Street, started in October 2015.

For years, scaffolding and hoardings surrounded the building as serious structural issues were addressed.

But, this summer, the hoardings came down and the long-awaited launch of the Shelter Hall finally arrived in July.

The Argus:

The site opened in the midst of lockdown as "the UK’s first socially distanced food hall, a pop-up food market with an eclectic mix of local brands".

It quickly gained popularity, regularly reaching capacity as food-lovers queued to visit the venue.

But now, following the introduction of a second UK lockdown and the enforced closure of non-essential retailers, Shelter Hall Raw shut on Wednesday.

In a statement, a spokesman for the venue said: "We stretched out the summer – despite the weather – because we were so incredibly proud of what the team were able to achieve.

"We launched the UK’s first socially-distanced food hall in July with just six weeks’ notice, and we’ve since welcomed countless food partners, local musicians, and drink partners to our street food market on the seafront.

"Since opening, we've poured more than 50,000 pints of beer, while our food partners served up nearly 50,000 pizzas, burritos, burgers, curries and toasties.

"We’re so grateful to all of the lovely locals and visitors who have spent an afternoon with us and made our first few months trading such a success."

The spokesman revealed what plans were in place for the future of the venue.

He said: "Now, we’ll be closing our doors to concentrate on the next phase of Shelter Hall.

The Argus: The Shelter Hall building as it neared completionThe Shelter Hall building as it neared completion

"We can’t wait to finish the refurbishment of our historic building and to launch with the full vision next year.

"We’ll be sharing periodically (on its social media accounts) so stay on the lookout for updates.

"In the meantime, we will continue to celebrate the great Sussex producers on our online store."

Shelter Hall Raw bosses have come up with a scheme to support local businesses throughout the lockdown, promoting some of the county's finest food and drink companies through its website.

The spokesman said: "The perfect way to shop local this Christmas, our store features a range of drinks, food and more from local producers – and we’re expanding every week.

"We’ll be highlighting many of their stories on our social and newsletter in the coming weeks.

"We look forward to continuing to champion the many great local food and drink suppliers in Sussex.

"A heartfelt thank you to our team and food partners who helped us exceed all expectations for the Shelter Hall Raw pop-up."

But the wait for the return of Shelter Hall Raw may go beyond the current four-week national lockdown, with a spokesman for the organisation telling fans they would "see you next year for the next chapter".