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Milford’s Fish House closes after nearly four decades in business

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 5, 2018, 8:54 p.m.

Milford’s Fish House abruptly closed its doors Saturday, serving its last customers after nearly four decades in business.

The Spokane seafood establishment announced it had closed in a statement on its website Monday, surprising many longtime patrons. A phone message left with the restaurant was not immediately returned Monday evening. Chef and owner Jerry Young has since declined to comment.

“Thank you so much to all our good friends made over the years,” his statement said. “It’s just a case of old age and it’s time to retire.”

Young opened Milford’s in 1980 on the corner of North Monroe Street and West Broadway Avenue, and it survived multiple recessions to become a Spokane institution. The quirky 93-year-old building was originally home to the New Transfer Market.

Inside, vintage charm met white tablecloths. The dining areas were done in brass and brick with old-school lighting fixtures, historic photos, a textured ceiling and wooden-booth seating. The menu changed with availability and the seasons, but a staple was the signature Cajun-style “Lisa” saute, which featured a melange of clams, prawns, salmon and more.

In 2014, a couple years after the restaurant got rid of its bar, Young told The Spokesman-Review that he and co-owner Wally Tamura worked just five days a week between them, and he hinted that retirement was on the horizon.

“What we’re going to do, we’ve already done,” he said. “Nobody has written the book on how to get out. … Maybe we’ll downsize until we evaporate.”

Most recently, Milford’s was open just four hours a day, six days a week.

The statement on its website said Milford’s would honor any outstanding gift certificates. And early this week, patrons were arriving to redeem them as well as drop off retirement cards and wish Young good luck and a happy retirement. Tables were still set. Red roses in vases still topped tables. A cached version of the website shows the restaurant updated its menu over the weekend and was fully booked for Valentine’s Day.