THE owners of a legendary York nightspot are expecting huge numbers to turn up for its final discos this weekend, as they claim they battled in vain to stay in business.

Tommy Fong claims he tried for three years to acquire a new lease for the Willow in Coney Street, but his landlord was adamant the premises could only be run as a restaurant, and would not allow it to operate as a disco.

In a letter from his solicitor Charles Stent to agents acting for landlord Aviva, Mr Stent said they could not accept the permitted use of the property to be for uses solely within A1 or A3 - shops, restaurants or cafes.

"This is because it is not being used within these classes at the moment and they would immediately be in breach of the clause following completion," he said.


York Press:

"The property is effectively used as a restaurant, however towards the end of an evening, my clients do open the floors a bit and an informal disco/bar takes place.

"This has been the case for decades and in York is a well-established and known event. Accordingly, there has to be some degree of flexibility on the definition of the permitted use."

Mr Fong spoke out after a man contacted The Press to suggest he would like to take over the lease and keep the Willow running as a nightspot.

Mr Fong said: " We would be very very disappointed if the landlord granted a Lease to another party to run as a night club after we devoted 43 years making The Willow are very successful business."

He said he would feel very disappointed if the landlord granted someone else a lease after he had been negotiating for so long. "If the landlords did a U turn and decided to grant us a new lease, we would accept it without hesitation," he said.

His wife Sue said numbers visiting the Willow had risen sharply ever since the news broke that it was closing, and she expected it to be very busy both this evening and its final session tomorrow night.

An Aviva spokesman said: "A new tenant will be taking over the lease shortly but we cannot comment on their plans."