Northamptonshire family restaurant to shut after 29 years

Dunkleys restaurant to close after 29 years.  John and Valerie Dunkley.
Dunkleys restaurant to close after 29 years. John and Valerie Dunkley.

A family restaurant in Northamptonshire is to close after 29 years of hosting the most important celebrations of customers’ lives.

Dunkley’s, in Whiston, is closing at the end of the month because owners, Valerie and John Dunkley, are retiring aged 69 and 70 respectively.

The pair have been helped in running the restaurant by their son and daughter and four of their six grandchildren. But all have successful careers and are not in a position to take over the business.

John said: “Partly it’s the economic climate, which has made things hard in the last few years, but we think now is the right time in our 70th years.

“I feel very sad because the staff have been so loyal and we’ve had some great times.

“Hopefully people have enjoyed themselves like we have.”

John and Valerie’s son, Andrew, runs The Rose and Crown pub in Yardley Hastings, so the tradition of the Dunkleys feeding Northamptonshire customers will continue, albeit without the family name.

The restaurant building, which is in Grendon Road, is to be sold, but John and Valerie will continue to live nearby.

The building is being marketed as a residential property and it is possible the landmark train carriages that are used as cocktail and coffee lounges will be towed away.

John said: “We’ve been the setting for so many of people’s special occasions in their lives.

“We’ve had birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, sometimes all three from the same people.

“It’s really amazing to be able to talk about our first wedding here almost 30 years ago. To be part of all those occasions is a great feeling.”

The buidling is on the site of the former Castle Ashby Railway Station, which was closed in 1964. The sheds were built in 1858 and the carriages which now lies alongside the restaurant were constructed in 1924 and 1926.

Dunkley’s Restaurant was opened in 1984 after re-laying the tracks on which the carriages now stand and after extensive refurbishment of the carriages and warehouse.

Granddaughter Rachel said: “It’s quite upsetting because I’ve been everything from a waitress to duty manager. It’s a very special place for me. However you can look at it from the point of view that they have run a successful business for almost three decades. That’s some achievement.”