By Olivia Haynes Some restaurants and cafes in Fremantle are beginning to feel the strain during Western Australia’s current economic downturn. On occasion, the popular café strip in Fremantle looks like a ghost town because customers are just staying away.One Fremantle restaurant owner of 30 years, Jerrald Swindells, says he’s never seen it this bad. “… it doesn’t matter what we do to attract customers it just seems people don’t have the money to spend … I’m beginning to feel a bit desperate.” Due to the decline in customers dining out, the face of the Fremantle café strip is quickly changing. With ‘For Lease’ signs popping up in Fremantle’s historic streets and some restaurants sitting empty, the future doesn’t appear to bode well for anyone trying to make a living in the hospitality industry. Kim Downing, a waitress in a small East Fremantle café, said customer numbers are so concerning, she fears her job is at risk. “It doesn’t seem like this is the kind of business that can continue with so few customers, I’m sure our number is up soon too …” said Kim. Rows of empty restaurant seats in Fremantle are a far cry from the peak of the mining boom in 2009 when rental properties in the port city were at full occupancy, employment was high and there was plenty of disposable income to spend on eating out. Jerrald Swindells is saddened by even the thought of being forced to close his doors. “… after a lifetime in the restaurant game, I can’t believe it’s come to this!” he said.