Two Loughton businesses, which together have been serving the community for more than 60 years, and an Epping cafe, that was started just two years ago, were visited by Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing to help promote Small Business Saturday.
Dame Eleanor visited Julie's at Stonards cafe, which is run by Julie Turrell at the Stonards Hill recreation ground in Epping.
Julie's business venture has earned her a joint Epping Townspeople of the Year award from Epping Town Council.
Dame Eleanor said: "It was a pleasure to meet Julie again who I remember from her days on Epping Forest Youth Council.
"The cafe was full with customers - and lots of dogs, with their owners enjoying everything from a coffee to a full English breakfast!
"Congratulations to Julie for being such a successful young entrepreneur."
Dame Eleanor chatted to several customers, including Iris who told her that many people really depended on the cafe during lockdown because they could go there to meet friends while sitting outside.
Dame Eleanor also visited The Book Shop in High Road, Loughton, which has been owned by Tania Blundy for 31 years, and Mode Beauty Therapy in Old Station Road which has been owned by Karen Drew for more than 30 years.
Dame Eleanor said: "Both The Bookshop and Mode are great examples of local, independent businesses which play a key part in our local community and in our local economy.
"There were a lot of people doing their Christmas shopping in The Book Shop. It's so much more fun to browse in a shop that is full of character rather than just to order online.
"And Mode have such high standards of hygiene that their customers can continue to have confidence that they can go there while the threat of Covid still hangs over us."