CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The landmark Hu Ke Lau Restaurant in Chicopee will close, temporarily, on April 6th.
Owner Andy Yee has had plenty of experience rejuvenating brands when he re-invented the iconic Fort and Student Prince Restaurant in Springfield.
“Come April 6th, 2018 we will be closing our doors. Not for good, but for another generation to enjoy,” said Yee.
It’s the end of an era, but also the beginning of a new chapter. Yee told 22News that despite still being profitable, the 53-year-old Hu Ke Lau is too old, and at 27,000 square feet — too big.
The plan for a new business is still unclear, but Yee told 22News he’s not selling and is committed to Chicopee.
“It is the end of an era. There used to be two places like this in New England, then there was one and now there will be none,” remarked Dana Cutter, who worked as a chef at the restaurant for more than 20 years.
The restaurant’s 60 employees will be offered positions at Yee’s other seven restaurants.
For Carol Lovell and Pam Ubidia, their best friend birthday tradition will be changing.
“We’re going to miss it the way it is because we always come every year to celebrate each others birthdays. And that’s what we are doing here today. It will be really sad not to keep the tradition going.”
The Polynesian room at the Hu Ke Lau is where for years, the dancers have thrilled the crowds. Andy Yee told 22News he’s not sure if these popular shows will be a part of the new plan. But the Polynesian dancers will be back April 6th for a send off show.
Andy Yee told 22News he’s also looking to expand his business portfolio in both western Massachusetts and Connecticut.