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Quarrier Diner to close next week

Lawrence Pierce
The Quarrier Diner, which reopened in 2011 after being closed since 1999, will close March 29. Owner Anna Pollitt said the restaurant doesn't get enough business to stay open.
Lawrence Pierce The Pollitts had consulted old photographs and painstakingly restored the diner, which was built in 1946.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Quarrier Diner, a Charleston landmark reopened two years ago, will close at the end of the month, owner Anna Pollitt said through tears Monday.

"We go many evenings with only one or two tables ... I just think that the location is so suspect -- mainly because people just don't come downtown after 5 o'clock," she said

Pollitt and her husband, David, plan to keep the downstairs bar, Timothy's, open for now. She said that could change by the end of the month.

The Pollitts purchased the dilapidated restaurant in September 2010 at the urging of their son, Tim, after it was named to the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia's Most Endangered Properties.

"He told us that if we would purchase a restaurant, he would make it work," Anna Pollitt previously told the Gazette.

They began extensive renovations in January 2011 to restore the art nouveau building, which was built in 1946. The Pollitt family received "Most Significant Save of an Endangered Site" from the Preservation Alliance for their work in preserving and restoring the Quarrier Diner.

The couple consulted old photographs and painstakingly restored the façade, the details on the wooden booths with their orange tabletops and decorative lamps and the floor tile and barstools. They added modern touches such as lighted glass bars and flat screen, projection televisions in an upstairs meeting room and in the downstairs bar.

But in the middle of construction, Tim Pollitt died from a head injury sustained after falling down the stairs at home on Easter Sunday.

"It was for him, but yet I thought it could be a project we could handle together," Anna Pollitt said Monday. "But it's bigger than us, than we even realized. I think it would have been hard even with him."

Their daughter, Lisa Pollitt, quit her job to help with the restaurant, Anna Pollitt said. The couple's nephew also worked there.

"She has to get on with her life, and my nephew had to get on with his life and I can't do it alone," Anna Pollitt said, crying.

On Monday at about 1 p.m., much of the lunch crowd -- which Anna Pollitt said can reach 90 customers -- had left, and about 10 people sat eating quietly.

Regular customers Jennifer Marrs and Siobhan Gearhart, who work across the street from the diner, said over salads Monday that they were devastated after seeing the sign taped on the door announcing the March 29 closure.

"It's raining and I asked [Jennifer] where we should go for lunch and we just came here. We were just here Friday," Gearhart said.

"It's really upsetting. We want to find Anna and see what's going on," Marrs said. "It seemed like it was always crowded."

The women wondered if the closing had anything to do with chef Tony Henderson's departure.

Lisa Pollitt said Henderson left in December but that him leaving didn't have anything to do with the restaurant closing. She said other employees had "carried the torch."

Besides not being able to survive on earnings from the lunch crowd, Anna Pollitt said the city of Charleston hasn't offered much support.

"Just in the last week, five cars were towed from the parking lot next door. Plus, the meter maid goes around every five minutes and catches everybody who is one second over," she said, noting people often think the adjacent parking lot belongs to the diner.

"I'm just frustrated with every aspect of it."

There aren't any immediate plans for what will happen to the space, but she said she's not in any rush to sell it.

"I'll see if we have any interest. We don't have to sell right away, we're not in financial trouble -- it's just time to move on," she said. "I'm a grandmother; I'm approaching 62 years old. I've got a lot of other things, a lot of other projects to get into."Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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