Hunter’s Restaurant first opened its doors in DeLand in 1949, but on May 29, 2022, it will close them for good. Owner Michael Marlow’s retirement will see a new restaurant, tentatively named Saigon Bistro, opening in Hunter’s place.
Over the course of 73 years, the family-owned Hunter’s Restaurant has operated in four different locations around Downtown DeLand, including its latest, at 111 E. Rich Ave., where Bellini’s Italian Restaurant and Deli once stood.
While he said he’ll miss it, Marlow is looking forward to retiring and moving north to Tennessee.
“It’s just time,” he said. “I’m sad — I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life — but it’s just time to retire.”
Most recently, Hunter’s was operated by Michael Marlow after his brother, Kenny Marlow, beat Michael to retirement by a few years. The restaurant had stayed in the family ever since it was opened by the Marlows’ grandparents, Paul Hunter Sr. and Carolene Hunter.
DeLandites shared memories and heartfelt early goodbyes when the Hunter’s Restaurant Facebook page shared the news May 15.
“The closing of your business will create a void that will not easily be replaced,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “Yours is a neighborhood restaurant that makes its residents feel welcomed.”
“So sad to hear,” another person said. “I can remember you staying open past 2:00 [p.m.] on a Saturday while we ate lunch and did the paperwork for our first house in DeLand. You have been our go to family restaurant ever since.”
Much like Michael Marlow’s own sentiments, customers wished the family a happy retirement.
“The thing I’ll miss the most — I won’t miss getting up at 4 in the morning — I’ll miss our customers,” Marlow said. “We’ve had wonderful, multi-generational customers who started coming in as kids, and now they’re parents and grandparents.”
After 111 E. Rich Ave. shuts down on May 29, the building’s new tenant, Truong Le, hopes to have his own restaurant open by mid-July. The restaurant, tentatively named Saigon Bistro, will serve Vietnamese food, hibachi and boba tea.
Le is also the owner of Funrolls Ice Cream & Boba at 2499 Enterprise Road in Orange City. With family roots in DeBary, and a business in Orange City, Le said he is looking forward to expanding his business to DeLand.