Bill Johnson's Big Apple closes location, auctions off items

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by Tami Hoey

Video report by Heidi Goitia

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 12:35 PM

PHOENIX -- Phoenix is losing a landmark, but now you will have the chance to own a piece of Arizona history.
 
Bill Johnson's Big Apple Restaurant at 19th Ave. & Bell Road is closing its doors, after being in business at that location since 1985. But first, the restaurant is auctioning off hundreds of items of memorabilia, including autographed photos and movie posters from John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gene Autry and more!

Other items include Native American historical memorabilia, bar mirrors, full kitchen equipment and restaurant furniture.

"The Johnson family spent more than 50 years collecting the unique items they proudly displayed in the restaurants," said Matt Hartley, CEO of Bill Johnson's Restaurants, Inc.

In the mid-1950s, entrepreneur, entertainer and cowboy Bill Johnson and his wife Gene opened their first Bill Johnson's Big Apple Restaurant location on East Van Buren St. in Phoenix. The Johnson family went on to open other restaurant locations throughout the valley and eventually became part of  Phoenix history.

"This auction is one of those rare ones where we are truly selling one-of-a-kind items that have great historical value," said George Cunningham, President and CEO of Cunningham and Assoc., Inc. and AuctionAZ.com. "The North Phoenix Bill Johnson's was a landmark for decades.  The western memorabilia you will be able to buy at this auction is rare, collectible and nostalgic."

Some items up for bid include a vintage jukebox, a wood-burning fireplace, and tons of art. Even the bar stools and restaurant fixtures are up for auction.

Despite the closing of the north Phoenix location, there are two remaining Big Apple locations in the valley.

Online bidding for the auction takes place May 16-21. Visit AuctionAZ.com for auction item photos and

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