| Danielle Eaton
WEST SPRINGFIELD – White Hut has been a staple in West Springfield for nearly 100 years, but on the night of Feb. 7, the restaurant closed its doors for good.
The restaurant on 280 Memorial Ave., opened in 1839, and was known for their burgers, shakes, fries and hot dogs. The restaurant unexpectedly let employees go and closed their doors.
Why White Hut closed is still a mystery as owner, Ed “EJ” Barkett hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment. West Springfield Finance Collector/Treasurer told Reminder Publishing all taxes for the building are “paid to date” and there was “no delinquency.”
While White Hut’s doors remain closed, they may not stay that way for long. Shortly after word of the restaurant’s closing got around Peter Pan Bus Lines Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee of the Bean Restaurant Group publicly announced their desire to reopen the restaurant under their ownership through local media outlets. The pair were among several individuals that worked to purchase and take over The Student Prince Cafe and Fort Restaurant on Fort Street in Springfield when it was in danger of closing in 2014.
West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt said that while he hasn’t talked with Barkett, he has met with Yee and Picknelly. He said he “believes they’re still in the preliminary stages” of reopening the restaurant, which indicates nothing has been made official yet. He added that he?“would be happy to see it reopen.”
West Springfield Planning Administrator Allyson Manuel said that while the Yee and Picknelly haven’t approached the planning department, they may not need to if they just plan to assume ownership of the restaurant. “If they wanted to reopen it as a restaurant they wouldn’t need to go through planning,” she explained. “But they might have to go through [the] building [department] for permits.”
She added that she doesn’t know if the pair has contacted the building department or not. Reminder Publishing reached out to the department, but had not received a response as of press time.