CUSTOMERS at one of Edinburgh’s best-loved Chinese restaurants have held a last supper to say thank you to the chef-owner who has fed them for nearly 40 years.
Stephen Chan, boss at the Lune Town on William Street, has decided to hang up his wok for good after running the hidden West End gem since 1979.
And regulars, although disappointed by his decision to retire and sell the premises, gathered together one last time at the weekend to make sure Mr Chan had a proper send off before he closes his doors for good at the end of the month.
Neighbour James McCallum, who organised the community bash, said: “William Street is a bit of an institution, so when a business moves on it’s a bit of a rare occurrence. Lune Town is a wonderful asset to have and a terrible asset to lose”.
“As a family, we’re really disappointed. Their extremely warm hospitality, always with a smile, will be a big miss”.
It is this friendliness, as well as the dishes – particularly his favourite Lemon Chicken – which Mr McCallum says has made Lune Town so popular.
Having grown up in Hong Kong, Mr Chan came to the UK aged 22 to study English in South London.
Unfortunately, as the eldest of six children, his family could not afford to support him and he was forced to drop out.
Mr Chan worked in a relative’s Edinburgh restaurant before purchasing his own. Following five years of planning permission and renovations, it became Lune Town.
When asked what he has most enjoyed about running the restaurant, Mr Chan mentioned getting to know his customers personally, and adapting his menu over the years to suit their tastes. “I found out what food my customers would love and created my own menu.
“Since [opening], loads of my customers have shown loyalty to me. They bring their own children, and they bring their children or new girlfriends or whatever.”
Mr Chan described William Street in 1979 as “very quiet”. However, many of the buildings later benefitted from council funding which allowed them to modernise and expand, leading to today’s bustling community atmosphere.
Mr Chan joked that his wife Vivienne and stepdaughter Rebecca have been the true bosses at Lune Town, saying that it was difficult to persuade Vivienne to give up the restaurant in favour of a quieter lifestyle.
Claudio Sapienza is Chairman of the William Street Business Community, owner of Maialino Deli, and close friend of Mr Chan.
“[Lune Town] has been there for such a long time”, he said, “It’s been the only Chinese restaurant on William Street and was, I believe, one of the very first in the West End.”
Although he has very much enjoyed his career, Mr Chan describes his retirement as a “relief” and says that he is looking forward finally going on a cruise, and spending a lot more time with family and friends.
“We’ll have a pint and chat. That will be my life.”
Many of his regulars have made friendly grumbles about him shutting up shop.
“They moan and I say to them, ‘Do you want to see me here in my coffin?’”