ONLY the second pub in Witney to close in 25 years is now a Nepalese restaurant.

The Butchers Arms, Corn Street, owned by Enterprise Inns, closed in November last year but has reopened as the Himalayan Spice restaurant.

Residents and campaigners said they were disappointed the pub had shut, but pleased it was no longer empty.

Witney Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Lesley Semaine, who owned the pub from 1985 to 2004, said: “I think anything is better than having it closed and it’s certainly something different.

“It’s an old pub and not really styled as a restaurant, but I wish them the best of luck.”

Ms Semaine said the pub had been a vibrant watering hole in Witney, but had declined in popularity in recent years.

“I had it for 19 years and that side of town used to be buzzing, but Corn Street isn’t as vibrant as it used to be.”

Tony Goulding, of Oxfordshire’s Campaign for Real Ale group, regretted local people had not been given the chance to save the pub. He said: “The pub closed before the community could do anything.”

But he said Witney was bucking the pub closure trend and this was only the second town pub to close in 25 years.

The other was The House of Windsor, in West End, which shut in 2011.

He added: “The rest of the pubs in Witney appear to be doing well and the town has gained a JD Wetherspoon, which has helped draw more drinkers in.”

The Nepalese restaurant will be run by Prakash Sharma and Puru Sitaula, who, along with friends and family, run four other Nepalese restaurants in Oxfordshire.

They are Gurkha Village in Oxford Road, Kidlington, Gurkha Spice, in Broad Street, Banbury, and, in Oxford, Everest in Howard Street, and Kadai and Naan in Cowley Road.