The northwest Phoenix location of Bill Johnson's Big Apple closed its doors for good about three weeks ago -- but you can still own a piece of it.
The restaurant was once one of five Big Apple locations in the Valley, though now only the original restaurant on Van Buren Street and a second location in Mesa remain. The Big Apple restaurants have been a Valley staple since the 1950s, when cowboy/radio personality/stuntman/actor Bill Johnson founded the first Bill Johnson's Big Apple with his wife Gene. Johnson used to broadcast his KTAR radio show from the Van Buren location, often hosting celebrities such as Roy Rogers and Johnny Cash.
You might say the closure was a long time coming. The family has faced financial troubles for years, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. Big Apple CEO Sherry Cameron -- Bill and Gene's granddaughter -- has been trying to save the family business from liquidation, which other family members have said publicly they'd prefer.
Just about everything -- including the furniture, equipment, and memorabilia -- from Bill Johnson's North will go up for auction on Friday, May 16. The auction will close on Wednesday, May 21.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Items will include autographed photos and movie posters from John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Gene Autry, among others; Native American historical memorabilia; bar mirrors; full kitchen equipment; and restaurant furniture.
Here are a few photos of what to expect in the auction:
For additional photos visit the AuctionAZ website.