A businessman who recently opened a new restaurant hopes his latest project can inject some life into an ailing highstreet.

Two months ago the doors of Green Owl Canteen on The Broadway in Debden swung open for the first time.

Following hot on the heels of a sister venture in Buckhurst Hill, the former post office turned spacious eatery is half restaurant, half cafe.

In the daytime it serves as host to coffee drinkers and cake eaters, providing a selection of gluten and dairy free patisseries alongside caffeinated classics.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings chefs in its sizeable kitchens get to work producing a range of gourmet, organic dinners, such as sourdough pizzas and prime beef patties.

While the arrival of a new restaurant may not be something overly unusual in itself, owners Jane and Marc Linch hope it can signal the beginning of change on a high street under pressure.

"There is an amazing opportunity here in Debden," said Mr Linch, who previously ran a food market.

"People are up in arms because of the retail park and that has made things difficult for traders, but we are in the middle of a very good area."

The retail park he referred to is the one of Langston Road, which opened shortly before Christmas.

Ever since business owners on The Broadway have seen a marked downturn in trade.

Some, such as Tom Barwick who runs World of Pets, is more than £2000 a month down compared to last year.

Others, including The Pirates Den and Save the Children, have closed or are about to.

While Mr Linch urged the district council to help traders with a more generous parking provision and shoppers to use independents rather than their chain counterparts in the retail park, he does not share the sense of fatalism that can creep into conversations about The Broadway.

He continued: "We are not far from anywhere and we are in the middle of a very good area, but you can't rely on footfall anymore.

"It is just not going to be enough in this day and age. People gravitate towards retail parks or just shop online.

"Today it is about creating your own footfall. I am saying "let's get the message out'."

Part of that message is that The Broadway is not afraid to "stay with the times" and take inspiration from shopping areas closer to the centre of London.

Mr Linch said: "If you go to London Fields, Hackney or Shoreditch you will find places like Franco Manca, but then in between are the independents offering services that have been going for many, many years.

"I want this place to be a mixed offering. I want the independent shops to stay here but maybe they need more modern places to fit in in-between."

Whether this kind of demi-gentrification is initiated and then welcomed by Debden's longstanding traders or their customers is yet to be seen.

In the meantime Mr Linch, who spent £350,000 fitting out the Green Owl Canteen, hopes his restaurant takes off.

He said: "Some people are going to love it, some are going to take a bit longer to come round to it.

"They might look at the menu and say "that's a bit expensive."

"But good, fresh food costs a bit more.

"We amassed a big following in Buckhurst Hill and we think we can do the same here."