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Dante's Down the Hatch to close July 31

Fans of Buckhead restaurant mainstay scurry to book final fondue meals

After months of back and forth, stops and starts, it appears Dante's Down the Hatch will finally sail off into the Atlanta culinary sunset on July 31. The announcement was made on the venerable Buckhead fondue restaurant's Facebook fan page. "The sale of the property has been renegotiated and the restaurant will be closing on July 31. Come see us soon and we appreciate all your loyalty. It's been a great 43 years!"

The Facebook fan page's 2,104 followers immediately began posting remembrances and vows to visit inimitable Atlanta restaurateur Dante Stephensen one final time before the crocodile infested 13-level 18th century sailing ship is mothballed this summer. "I became engaged there 25 years ago," posted fan Randy Glenn. "And have remained with the same wonderful wife since and remained a dedicated customer. So going to miss this classic Atlanta venue. God bless you, Mr. Stephensen. Wrote Alison Taulbee Tiller: "Thanks for bringing us great food and music for 43 years! God speed to you all." Added Velasquez Santiago: "My girlfriend and I go at least five to seven times a year. And every time, Dante has walked around to find us, greet us, and have a chat. This is truly terrible news."

Administrators for the Dante's Facebook page promise fans there will be an online auction for the restaurant's four decades of accumulated antiques, collectibles and, well, junk. Diners are already snapping up reservations for the melted cheese cargo ship's final July 31 voyage.