ERDA, Utah — Virg's, a restaurant in Erda, has been serving residents in Tooele county for more than two decades. Sunday they announced they will be closing their doors at the end of the year.
Last year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints bought the property, and surrounding area where the restaurant is located, for the development of a new temple. That development was subsequently halted after a community petition raised concerns about the temple and nearby residential construction.
Last month, the church informed Virg's owner, David Law, that he would have vacate the building by the end of the year. He posted a letter at the restaurant on Sunday informing customers that doors would soon be closing.
Law began working at Virg's original location in Salt Lake City when he was only 13-years-old.
"I worked there for nine years, and the owner passed away, so I had bought it from his wife," he said.
He opened the Erda location in 1997, and has been serving the community ever since.
"It's over half my life!" Law said emphatically. "I met my wife here."
He said the restaurant, and Tooele community, mean a lot to him and his family.
"I have one customer that the mom was pregnant when we opened up, and she had a baby," he added. "From that day which is 23 years later, every one of her birthdays has been celebrated here."
Law was informed that he would likely have to move locations when the property was bought by the church in 2019. Up until now, they have allowed him to lease the property on a month-to-month basis.
"They told me I had a year, then things changed," Law said. "I think it was on the 19 or 20 [of Nov.], that Saturday, I got the certified letter saying I have to be out Dec. 31."
He tried to negotiate an extension on the month-to-month lease, giving him more time to find a new location. But he and the church were not able to come to an agreement.
Law said one of the hardest parts of closing is informing his employees they would no longer have a job just before the holidays. He said some his staff has been with him for over a decade.
"I'm begging, don't let me fire everybody for Christmas," Law said.
With the added economic pressures of the pandemic, he said the Erda location has helped keep the doors open at his other restaurants in the Salt Lake Valley.
"This one has been funding, helping support all of them," he added.
Although he has the other locations, Law said closing the doors at the Erda restaurant will not be easy.
"It's just heartbreaking," he said tearfully.
In a statement sent to FOX 13, Daniel Woodruff, a church spokesman, said:
“The Church purchased the land in Erda where Virg's is located in July 2019. At that time, the restaurant did not have a formal lease in place. Since then, we have allowed Virg's to remain on the property on a month-to-month lease while encouraging them to find a new location. Last month, the Church issued a notice to terminate that month-to-month lease effective December 31. We wish the owners of Virg's the best as they transition to a new location.”
Law is continuing to search for a new location for Virg's in the Tooele Valley, but said nothing has worked out because of the economic impacts of the pandemic. He said he hopes to reopen sometime in the future. For now, that date is still unknown.