THE Mad Hatter tearooms and restaurant in Avoncliff is under new management. Amirah Omran, 21, and Richard Young, 34, opened the doors to the public in November, offering a new and varied menu.

Miss Omran said: "This is the first time that I've run a restaurant, although I have previously worked in the catering industry.

"Before taking over here I was working as an assistant manager, so it is a bit different."

The Mad Hatter, which is close to the Kennet and Avon Canal, is open seven days a week and has been doing brisk trade, especially at weekends. An extensive traditional menu offers a range of snacks, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salads, cream teas and drinks, in addition to the popular homemade cakes.

They are planning to add a drinks licence so people will also be able to order alcohol with their meals. As well as co-managing the Mad Hatter, Mr Young also owns Downside Nurseries in nearby Upper Westwood, so visitors to the nursery often take a trip down to the restaurant.

"We wanted to give customers at the nursery somewhere to get a drink and something to eat, but the nursery is not the right site to put a coffee shop on, nor was it really viable," said Mr Young.

"That is why my partner and I decided to go into business together. "The nursery and restaurant are only a mile apart, so we felt that using the nurseries as a catchment for the restaurant was the ideal solution."

According to Mr Young, indications so far seem to suggest that the Mad Hatter will do very well. "It has been well received by the locals, and people seem especially pleased with the homemade cakes, which Amirah has an excellent reputation for," he said.

"The other key to our success is that unlike many tearooms and restaurants, our menu is sensibly priced, which means people will keep on coming back."