Customers say goodbye to landmark Phoenix restaurant

It's the original restaurant, and the last one standing of six locations, to close down after nearly 60 years in business.

Bill Johnson's Big Apple, has been a Phoenix landmark since 1956.

"It used to be where the pavement ends, and the old west begins, so it was just their fashion, and their style, to serve some good BBQ, some good food, and great breakfast," said Randi Beswick, the general manager.

"By the time we lock the doors today, we will all be in tears," said Beswick.

Beswick calls the restaurant her second home. She's worked here for more than two decades. Last week she found out it would be closing.

"Basically it had some struggles and challenges financially, and in order to keep up with our standards we just can't do it anymore, we can't compete," she said.

She has many memories from working at the restaurant and learned of even more today.

"Somebody got proposed to, every anniversary is here, they raised their kids through these restaurants, they worked here when they went to school. We're hearing a lot of history and a lot of stories," said Beswick.

Linda Gannon is part of that history. 

"I've been coming here since I was a little girl," said Linda Gannon.

She had to eat here one last time and order her favorite desert for old times sake.

"Quite often in the evening we would have the deep dish apple pie, and they would serve it with ice cream or cheddar cheese, and we always got the cheddar cheese," she said.

Beswick said the location would soon become a parking lot for Gateway Community College next door.

"Gateway bought it; they want to make it a parking lot," said Beswick.

"I almost cried, I thought driving down here and seeing a parking lot, it's just a shame, it really is," she said.

So on Sunday, the customers all soaked it in.

"A wait of an hour and ten minutes before customers can be seated and enjoy those homemade recipes, and memorabilia for the last time," said Beswick.

"This has been here for so long, and the food is so good, it's just a shame really," said a customer.

Beswick said she and her 27 employees made the best out of their last moments here at Bill Johnson's Big Apple.

The restaurant will be auctioning off some of the memorabilia that was inside, as well as the large "Bill Johnson's Big Apple," sign in the coming weeks.


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