Bellingham Billy McHale's to close at end of June


BELLINGHAM - Billy McHale's is closing its doors when its lease is up at the end of June, after 22 years in business.

Owner Kristy Knopp said several factors led to the decision to close on June 30, chief among them the unknowns of the Canadian dollar and the possible move of Costco, which shares a parking lot with the restaurant, 4301 Meridian St.

Knopp, who has owned the restaurant for 10 years, didn't want to take a gamble on a five-year lease with such uncertainty.

The restaurant employs 65 people, and Knopp said increases in the minimum wage and health care were adding to the restaurant's costs, as well as upkeep on the building and equipment.

The proximity to Costco was a mixed bag for the business, she said, describing a love-hate relationship with the busy warehouse store that draws Canadians in droves for bulk goods. For a while, a busy Costco brought more diners to Billy McHale's, but Knopp thinks the packed parking lot also drove away some local customers.

Costco is working with the city on a possible new store in the West Bakerview area, and Knopp wasn't sure how the restaurant would be affected if the Meridian Costco closed. Add that to a fluctuating Canadian dollar affecting the number of people crossing the border, and it just seemed like the right time to close.

"It's been a slow year," Knopp said. "We wanted to go out when we could go out and be a success, and not run it into the ground and have nothing."

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or

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