"The Gathering Place”
While driving on Route 12 towards Gales Ferry, I can’t help but notice an old building sitting idle, empty and discarded on the right side of the road. I remember a lot of great memories and good times I had in that now empty building that was known as The Gathering Place Restaurant.
In its heyday, it was known as “the” place to go to for great appetizers, great steaks, crab soup and dinners; no matter what time of night. On the weekends they had live entertainment. When “Happy Hours” were legal, they had a host of appetizers to consume, while drinking low priced drinks. It wasn’t a large bar; as a matter of fact it was originally a gas station converted to a restaurant. The weekends would find most of the booths and bar full. The ambience of Gathering Place was enhanced by memorabilia on the walls, and its famous stained glass on the ceiling, walls and front window. A neon sign on the outside wall says “A Fun Place to Eat, Drink and Mingle.”
I started going there on a regular basis around 1998. I was having some personal problems, and didn’t want to share with people I knew. I was looking for a nice quiet bar where no one knew me. I walked in, sat at the bar, there was only one other person sitting at the bar, I felt comfortable. Yes, this was perfect. Nice quiet place.
The staff was very friendly and within a week I got to know everyone. I met two other regulars who became very close friends; we met every night around 9 pm. Even the customers sitting in booths were regulars who came in two or three times a week. It was a community bar.
Over the next couple of years I met a lot of new friends and enjoyed most of the dinners on the menu.
The Gathering Place was a bar like the TV show “Cheers” where everyone knows your name. Many times my two new friends and I were the only ones at the bar at closing time, which the wait staff liked, because they weren’t alone.
The Gathering Place closed down around 2002 and the owner sold the building. The new owners gutted the building and were going to reopen the restaurant. About 6 months later the work on the building stopped and it has remained empty since. It has since been put on the market for sale.
I still run into some of the regular patrons from the Gathering Place who say the same thing “I wish it were still there, I really miss it.” Today, so many years later, my two bar buddies and I still remain friends. When we get together we inevitably mention the great times we had at the Gathering Place.
Do you remember the Gathering Place? Would you like to share?