A staple in the Chicopee community is closing its doors next month.
The Hu Ke Lau will be officially closed April 6, but not for good.
The restaurant has been along Memorial Drive in Chicopee since 1965.
The business will close its doors in one month, but they said that it's not for good.
The Memorial Drive eatery has been a fixture in Chicopee for over 50 years with Polynesian cuisine, and entertainment including a Hawaiian show, musical performances, and comedy acts.
"It's huge. Everybody knows the Hu Ke Lau," said Kim Labelle of Chicopee.
The Yee family has owned an operated the business since it opened and they announced Monday that the Hu Ke Lau will be closing.
Rumors circulated over the weekend any many loyal patrons were panicked
"I was bummed. I heard a lot of rumors like everybody did," Labelle added.
However, they were happy to find out that it's not for forever.
The building, HVAC, and parking lot need huge amounts of work - so much so it's not worth fixing, but totally tearing down and starting again.
Andy Yee, owner of the Hu Ke Lau, told Western Mass News that “instead of putting a quick band aid on a building that is falling down, we are going to put a new building with new landscaping.”
Yee said that Chicopee is growing and changing with the times and they want the Hu Ke Lau to reflect more modern times, so that they can represent a city they love for another 53 years.
Longtime residents can’t wait to see what’s next
"Looking forward to see what they do with the place," Labelle noted.
The Yee family is also involved in several other area restaurants in Springfield, South Hadley, Amherst, and Hadley. Current employees will have the opportunity to seek employment with one of their other establishments.
The Yee family also intends to remain part of the Chicopee community.
"As a result, our long term objective is to continue to be a vital part of Chicopee with a vision of redeveloping the property to make it viable for the future needs of the community we live in," Andy Yee explained.
The full statement from the Yee family, released Monday, appears below:
"The Hu Ke Lau opened April 6th 1965, and as you know we have enjoyed a long tenure on Memorial Drive in Chicopee. Our flagship store has been in our family, and the company stronghold for these many years and we could not be more proud of the legacy that the Hu Ke Lau has given our family, our team, and the community as a whole. So, on April 6th 2018, when The Hu Ke Lau closes its doors, we want you to know it will be not with a heavy heart, but with an eye to the future.
The Hu Ke Lau has been a landmark in Chicopee for 53 years, and we will continue to be part of the fabric of this community for decades to come. However, the building is now nearing the end of its useful life. In addition, changes in dining habits and culture have made a large restaurant like the Hu Ke Lau more challenging to operate. As a result, our long term objective is to continue to be a vital part of Chicopee with a vision of redeveloping the property to make it viable for the future needs of the community we live in. In addition, our valued current employees will have the opportunity to seek employment with our other established restaurants throughout the Pioneer Valley.
We would like to offer a heartfelt thank you the many loyal customers and friends who have all provided us with a lifetime of memories to cherish forever.
We want to say a special thank you to all our co-workers from past and present for without all of you we never could’ve accomplished all of this.
In the next month, don't be a stranger, come in and help us celebrate the birth of an exciting new future for this very important property in Chicopee.
The Yee Family"
Yee said that this is their time to “keep up with the Jonses” and they will hold an official press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.
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