The bar formerly known as Billy Goats will close its doors for the last time Tuesday night
There will be drink specials at the tavern formerly known as Billy Goats, 345 W. Main St., Batavia, on Tuesday because the bar won't open again on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, any other day after that unless some entrepreneur wants to sign a lease and open a new nightspot.
Owner John Spyropoulos wants to eliminate his existing inventory of booze because he's decided his family is more important than trying to run two demanding businesses by himself.
His father, Steve Spyropoulos, died May 11, at age 66. John said Steve wasn't just his father. He was his best friend and his business partner.
"There's a lot of ground to cover and it's physically straining on me," Spyropoulos said during a conversation at Settler's Family Restaurant. "There are late nights there, early morning here. I have a family at home. I have two boys who are 14 and I've got a daughter. She's 5. You know something's got to give sooner or later; I prefer it not to be with my family."
Steve Spryopoulos arrived in the United States at age 19 with just the suitcase in his hand. He made his way to Batavia, started a family, and built two successful businesses. John is proud of his father's legacy and knows how much he loved running the bar, but the two businesses are too taxing and require too many incompatible hours to be managed by one person.
Settler's is the primary family business and the one Spryopoulos really wants to run. If he couldn't do both, closing the bar made the most sense.
"It needs to be done," Spryopoulos. "You know I feel bad for the employees. We had good help over there, three employees, good employees. They've been there for a long time and I feel bad for them but they understand."
While most people still know the bar as Billy Goats, Steve and John officially changed the name about a year ago to The Goht. Now, with the business being shut down, Spryopoulos is open to talking with anybody with the wherewithal to run a bar business about leasing the building. Or he will lease it for office space. The one thing he's not going to do, he said, is sell the property. He'll put it to some use if he can't lease it.
When Spryopoulos broke the news that The Goht would be closing, one bartender today told him he made a decision his father would encourage.
"She said to me that my dad's biggest concern for me was that I would not spend enough time with my family," Spryopoulos said. "She told me, 'your father always worried about you and your family. He wanted to make sure you spent enough time with your family.' So, you know, when a bartender tells me that, that means something."
It's still a sad decision, Spryopoulos said, because he also knows the bar meant a lot to his father and just walking into the place reminds him of his dad.
"My dad touched a lot of lives over there," Spryopoulos said. "He made a lot of friends. The imprint he left on people is incredible. It says a lot."
When you run your own business there are no off hours. Running two of them is especially difficult; and bars and restaurants come with many headaches and worries you never escape. Spryopoulos said he's had no time to really come to grips with the loss of his father
"I haven't even had a chance to cope with my father's death since he passed away May 11," he said. "You get through the funeral. You get through everything. Then it's right back to work. There's no time coping, no time for myself and for my family."
Spryopoulos picked Tuesday to close down because that's the final day of the current liquor license and he decided not to renew it.
"I don't want people to think, 'oh he couldn't handle it on his own,' " Spryopoulos said. "Or saying my dad passed away and now I'm giving up. I'm not giving up. You just have to pick your battles. I'm working here six, seven days a week, from seven or eight in the morning to five or six in the evening. I've got to worry about over there and I've got my wife and kids at home. That's only going to last so long. Something has got to give."
The Goht will be open Tuesday from 4 to 11 p.m. with DJ Kevin providing entertainment. There will be "HUGE" drink specials Spryopoulos said.