Goodbye prawn crackers. Goodbye sticky dancefloor. Goodbye cheesy music.
Put it on your calendar: 4.20am, Sunday, July 26. At that appropriately bizarre hour, the Willow Restaurant and Disco – a feature of York’s social scene for 42 years – will shut its doors forever.
Tommy Fong – one of the most recognisable faces on York’s night scene for all those years – runs the Willow with his wife Sue. He wrote:
Thank you for your spirit, support and love of Jaegerbombs.
We hope to see you at one of our final nights and there may be more giveaways on top of our infamous prawn crackers as the music stops for the last time.
Thank you. We wish you the very best that life and disco has to offer. Don’t Stop Believing.
He explained to the York Press that, with his 70th birthday approaching, he had decided to retire:
I would probably have gone on a few more years but think the time is now right.
The Willow was originally an upmarket Bettys-like tearooms which opened in 1936. Tommy kept the name when he took it over in 1973.
One of our readers Karen Gordon recalled those early days:
Most readers only knew the venue under its present ownership. And when we first revealed the end was nigh, it provoked a strong response from many YorkMix readers…
At 30yrs old I probably won’t be going again but only have brilliant memories of it. Will be really sad to see it go. Anyone who doesn’t like it is just stuck up and doesn’t know how to let their hair down
– Marie Hall
– Mags Kelly
– Emma Rose Johnson
– Jenny Smith
– Brenda Richardson
The Willow owners had leased the premises from owners Aviva. It is not clear whether a business has been lined up to take over the lease.
But then, how can you follow the Willow?