RIDGEFIELD – Cars packed the parking lot and guests filled the lounge and restaurant at Jollie’s Restaurant and Lounge Sunday afternoon, where Kathy Marsolek has been a patron since 1974, when she went to celebrate her 21st birthday with her mother.
She did the same for her daughter, Angie Jolley, who did the same for her daughter.
“The whole restaurant, the bar, everybody’s family,” Jolley said.
Sunday was the last day for the Ridgefield-area staple, which has been in the Jollie family since opening in 1963.
Bill Jollie bought the building when it was just a tavern, after he was laid off from Lucky Lager brewery. In the 54 years since, the stop on Northeast Union Road, just east of Interstate 5, has grown to include a tavern, kitchen, restaurant and lounge.
Jollie died three years ago, and the business stayed in the hands of his wive and four children, three of whom work there.
Marsolek said the Jollie’s community felt like a family, between the dozens of birthdays, bridal showers and other events, the time spent watching the Jollie children, and their children, grow up, and other fun.
One of her favorite memories was a party that included co-owner Dave Jollie dressed as one of the Village People, complete with loincloth.
“Lot of memories,” Marsolek said, adding, with a wry smile: “Glad the walls don’t talk.”
Jolley, who played in one of the lounge’s many live music acts over the years, said the family’s plan was to simply lock up at 8 p.m. the last day.
“I said, ‘No you’re not,’” she said.
An institution like Jollie’s, which has supported countless benefit events and programs, needed a proper send off.
“It’s home,” she said.
The restaurant sits on a dead end road. Dave Jollie said earlier that plans for the nearby Northeast 179th Street interchange didn’t seem to promise much in added traffic. That, coupled with a good offer from developers Killian Pacific for the land, made it look like a good time to move on.
The company owns most of the property nearby. They haven’t said what they plan to do with the land, but the county put a hold on development until the interchange is finished.
Kurt and Tina Strickland came for a last New York steak and eggs Benedict Sunday, after going to Jollie’s for 37 years.
“We’ve always shut the tavern down, then got to the lounge and shut that down, then the nice ladies here take care of us and we can go home,” Tina Strickland said.
“They’ve always taken care of us,” Kurt Strickland added.
In all the years they’ve come here, he said, there was maybe one time they didn’t run into another guest they knew.
“I woke up this morning and thought, you know what? This place was kinship,” Tina Strickland said.
They’ve recalled all the birthday parties and visits with their kids and grandkids, she said. They would come for meals during the week and breakfast on Sundays, and came in a few days this week to help see the place off.
“And we’ll close it down tonight,” Tina Strickland said.
Dave Jollie said Sunday the response over the last week and since the closure was announced has been overwhelming.
“We’ve had many generations of families come through here, have supported us from day one,” he said as guests came by to pat him on the back, shake his hand and offer hugs. He was standing next to a large farewell card hundreds of people had signed.
He’ll miss it, he said.
“It wasn’t bad until you start saying goodbye to people and hugging them and stuff. Made a lot of good friends, friendships, relationships,” he said. “We’d just like to thank them all for the support over the years and all the good times that we’ve had, and the good people that we’ve met along the way.
”Hope to see them again down the road somewhere.“
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