KITTERY, Maine — A popular local hangout closed its doors Saturday, after more than 28 years in business.
The Corner Pub at 4 Wallingford Square in the Foreside is no more. Owner Centula Abrams said "it was just time."
Abrams said there was a time when The Corner Pub was standing-room-only most nights. She said it's still popular and has its regulars, but she and her partner John Reed are ready to rest and start a new chapter in their lives.
Reed agrees and says he is more than ready to retire.
"It's a hard business," Abrams said. "Ever since the shipyard laid off workers, we have seen less. Now they only get a half hour for lunch and that's not enough time to come here. We work six days a week, and then more often come in on our day off to clean and do work we can't do when the bar is open. It seems like a sudden decision and I guess it is, but we are tired."
Abrams has a few health issues she considered in making her decision to close and she thought about the rising costs to operate the bar.
"It's always better to make a clean cut," said the Portsmouth resident. "Now, I will raise my grandbabies and see what comes next."
The Corner Pub looks like an old-style bar. Half the room is filled with pool tables and the menu is pub-style food. Abrams calls it a working man's bar, noting it's a dying breed.
"We have always taken care of our customers," she said. "We made this a place the guys could bring their wives and girlfriends. They feel safe here and they are. If we are crowded, we put plywood over the pool tables to make more eating room. If our customers drink too much, we take care of them. We do not call the police on our customers, although there are a few who have been banned from here since 1992. They know who they are."
The pub was crowded Saturday with people coming in to say goodbye.
Gavin Beaudry, owner of the Black Birch Restaurant, brought the couple a gift certificate to his restaurant, located a few doors down.
"Come in and have dinner on us," Beaudry said.
Cheri Gonzales said she has been a bartender at The Corner Pub for "100 years." She said she is sad to see the place go.
"Her first night here was a Wednesday night," Abrams said. "We went to play darts. When we came back, we learned there had been a birthday party. There was cake everywhere, even on the ceiling."
"It was chocolate cream pie," added Gonzales. "When she came in, I asked her how she liked me now. Someone from the party came in the next day to help cleanup. We have had some good times here."
Jill and Dennis Grobe of Portsmouth said they were surprised by the closing.
"I used to leave work, come here and play pool," said Dennis, who works at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Closing a chapter this long is bittersweet.
"I am ready, but I have the best customers in the world," Abrams said. "I will miss this place."