ONE of Hexham’s most popular restaurants is set to close next month when its lease expires.

The Golden Dragon on Battle Hill has been a mainstay in Hexham for 15 years - but owner Wil Cheung has decided not to renew the lease on the Chinese restaurant.

It means the business, which also operates a takeaway service, will cease trading on May 20.

Wil had been hoping somebody would come forward to take the business on, but the coronavirus pandemic has made that unlikely.

He said: “I really hoped that a new owner would come in and I could ensure that they were going to be great and continue it, but it’s not the right time.

“People aren’t looking to purchase restaurants.”

The restaurant has always been popular, but in recent weeks people have been flocking to purchase takeaways during lockdown, while Wil has also helped provide food for NHS staff at Hexham General Hospital.

He reflected positively on his 15 years in the town.

Wil continued: “It’s been a dream. It’s really sad to leave and finish. It’s weird - you would expect things to wind down but we seem to be doing the opposite and going out with a bang.

“It’s been a great 15 years, we’ve made lots of memories. When we moved here, there was four Indian restaurants and only one Chinese at the time. I thought ‘Wow, do people in Hexham not like Chinese food?’

“But we were really welcomed by everybody in Hexham, we’ve made so many friends and met so many amazing people. It’s really sad. I’ve been here 15 years - it’s a big part of my life.”

This Saturday will be the final time the restaurant will serve its usual takeaway menu, with a reduced service in place until May 20.