A POPULAR family restaurant has shut down abruptly after 31 years after angry diners said it “cannot be replaced by a Starbucks”.
The shock closure was announced in a short Facebook post, “effective immediately”.
Mr. Bill’s Southern Diner in Northport, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama said in a simple message last Saturday, “Hello!
“We wanted to let everyone know that we have decided to close Mr Bill’s with immediate effect. Thank you for 31 years. God bless him.”
The Facebook page now confirms that the business is “permanently closed”.
Although no explanation was given for the sudden closure, longtime customers pointed to the owner’s retirement plans after struggling with staff shortages in the wake of the Corona restrictions.
But Northport’s Chandra Clark said the independent restaurant shouldn’t be replaced by a chain like Starbucks, WVUA reported to 23 News.
Clark said: “I hope that another local facility will come along and serve the community.
“We have a lot of chains in Northport and they’re great. I’m glad we’ve seen a lot of developments and changes, but there’s nothing like supporting the local community.”
Regular Paul Nelson said: “It’s a sad day because we are losing an old friend.
“I’ve been retired for 15 years, so I’ve been eating here for 20 or 25 years.”
Hundreds of messages were posted on Facebook in support of the popular restaurant, with many referring to the hard work of the staff as people thanked them for the fond memories and great food.
Ruby Ray wrote: “You will surely miss your good country cooking.”
Jerrod Franklin added, “Thank you for the great food, service and gospel over the years.”
Marilee Brown-Wells wrote: “Mr. Bill’s is a Northport institution that so many loyal customers will miss,” while Michelle Sanford said, “This is so sad. Fast service with a smile every time.”
Mr. Bills was also thanked for serving the community for so long.
Cindy Beasley Fulmer said, “I’m so sorry this Northport icon is going.”
Some mentioned the chicken and dumplings as a particular highlight, with Judith Thomas posting: “I’m going to miss your chicken and your dressing.
“The best in Tuscaloosa. Sorry for all of us and for you. Thank you for years of good food.”
A heartfelt tribute from Javalla Peterson Hardy added: “This saddens me but I understand.
“Life after Covid has been challenging for so many small businesses. My family has certainly enjoyed many meals at Mr. Bill’s. Northport will not be the same without you.”
Restaurant owner Michael Parrish said he appreciates the public support from regulars. The company was founded in 1992.