Bill's countdown to last orders at Blackpool bar Don Pepe
There’s less than a fortnight to go before last orders will be called on Blackpool’s longest-running cocktail bar, and owner Billy Tankard admitted he will feel emotional when the time comes.
Yorkshireman Billy, 66, who has been at the helm of King Street bar Don Pepe for 27 years, said he is not normally a man given to too much sentiment, but this occasion will probably prove to be an exception.
The friendly bar will be closing for the last time next Sunday (July 18) because the row of buildings it’s on is being demolished as part of the council’s regeneration plans.
Billy said: “After all this time it will be emotional.
“In a place like this you make a lot of friends and the social side is the best part of it for me.
“So on the final day, it will mean a lot.
“Since news of the bar closing has got out there, people who haven’t been here for years have come in to see me.
“I know regulars are going to be sad. It’s taken me years to make the bar what it is and then it will be gone.”
One of the features in the bar is a huge 20ft by 5ft board covered with a montage of photos depicting some of the many customers who have called in at Don Pepe over the past three decades.
Billy said: “People are welcome to have those photos, I’m sure they will bring back some great memories so they can come it and get them.”
Originally from Castleford, Billy started out in the supermarket trade in Leeds and spent 11 years in Australia.
Back in England, a family trip to Blackpool led to him buying Don Pepe, as he was looking for his own bar to run.
At that time, Don Pepe was struggling to stay afloat and Billy had little idea that he would still be there 27 years later.
He said: “It was a very difference place in those early days but over the years it became what it is today.”
In the meantime, Billy will be dispensing his famous cocktails, some of them unique to Don Pepe, over the next two weeks, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays - and that final Sunday.
He says he will be happy to see old friends return before the final bell rings.
For the next two weeks, Don Pepe is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 5pm until midnight.