They have been familiar faces to many in Armagh over many years and have become firm friends.
But it’s the end of an era for our city as two of its long-serving business owners, Mary and Benji Wong, have confirmed their retirement.
The owners of the Welcome Chinese hot food bar at Lower English Street have been trading in Armagh for the best part of four decades.
And today their decision to move to a well-earned retirement was confirmed on social media.
But as Mary and Benji announced they would be calling it a day and bowing out, the Welcome Chinese hot food bar will continue.
And the running of the business has been entrusted to their son, Kalap, who could have had no better teachers in the culinary trade.
Kalap takes over the premises, at 14 Lower English Street, from May 10.
Mary and Benji made their announcement this evening and thanked all their loyal customers and friends over the years for the warm support and constant trade during their time in business.
They said: “Having owned the business for almost 40 years, may we take this opportunity to extend our warmest and most heartfelt thanks to all our customers for supporting this family business and I hope this will continue in the future
“During this time, many great friendships were forged, and it has been a great pleasure to serve you all. Moving foward, we know my son is also excited about serving you.
“Sending you all our love and the best wishes for the future. Thank you.
“Mary and Benji Wong.”
Among those paying tribute was neighbouring business owner Mark McSherry.
The owner of the Barber SRSB of Lower English Street said he was confident the Welcome Chinese would be in good hands with Kalap taking over.
But he spoke of the sadness that Mary and Benji were calling it a day.
He said: “I’m privileged to have known Mary and Benji and their beautiful family since they moved here and indeed they’ve become an integral part of the city.
“I’m sure you will join me in saying they will be sorely missed and wish them both all the good health and happiness in the world in retirement!
“Also (not that he will need it) but the very best wishes to Kalap for the future as he carries on the torch that’s shone so bright and served us all at the Shambles for almost 40 years!”
We couldn’t have said it better Mary. So best of luck to both Mary and Benji; thanks for your service, your kindness and, dare we say, the warmest of ‘Welcomes’ to us all!
And best wishes too to you Kalap – big shoes to fill but we know you’ll do your parents proud!