Russell Eng has owned the J. J. Morgan Restaurant in the University Heights Mall for 25 years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich’s J. J. Morgan Restaurant to close after 32 years

Owner chooses to shut down ahead of University Heights redevelopment

After more than 30 years of serving comfort food, Saanich’s J.J. Morgan Restaurant is closing its doors.

Russell Eng has owned and operated the restaurant for 25 years. Recently, he made the difficult decision to close at the end of April rather than relocate during the redevelopment planned by Wesbild, the company that owns the University Heights Mall property.

READ ALSO: Second redevelopment proposal University Heights aims to address community concerns

Ahead of the redevelopment, Wesbild has worked with the existing tenants to figure out what the future holds, said a spokesperson for the Vancouver-based company in a statement.

Most were told they will have to relocate to make room for the proposed mixed-use complex which, if approved by the District, will include six new buildings and almost 530 rental units to be set above retail spaces and various restaurants.

Eng has mixed feelings about the impending closure of the restaurant. He’s going to miss the routine, the chicken pot pie, his “crew” and regulars who’ve become like family.

“Everybody is a regular here,” Eng said. “It’s the community meeting place.”

In more than two decades at the restaurant, he’s seen children grow up, get married and then bring their own babies by.

READ ALSO: Company commits to redeveloping Saanich’s University Heights

Eng said some customers come in on a daily basis and he’s not sure where they’ll all go now.

As for the staff, almost a dozen have worked by his side for more than 20 years and he couldn’t just open another restaurant because it wouldn’t be J. J. Morgan’s without his crew.

“They’re the heart of the restaurant,” he said.

Despite feeling sad about the end of an era, Eng is choosing to look at the closure as an early retirement. He looks forward to doing some travelling and finally having the time to check a few things off his to-do list.

For now, Eng is in the process of sharing the news with his regulars and enjoying the last few months in business. No farewell party has been planned, but Eng isn’t opposed to a send-off.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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