Atlantic Hotel closes

Greg Peerenboom
Atlantic Hotel closes

It’s last call at a long-time Glengarry County meeting place, but there is still hope the keg has a few more rounds left in it.

Atlantic Pub & Eatery, or as its patrons fondly called it, “the Tic”, ceased operations over the weekend, prompting an avalanche of well wishes on its Facebook page.

“In the end, a difficult decision had to be made,” posted owner/operator Richard Willard on Friday. July 31.

Contacted on Monday, Willard said a combination of factors eventually led to the announcement that many of his customers and staff had dreaded would come, after the Alexandria building and all its trimmings were listed for sale some weeks ago.

The Atlantic Hotel building had its start in a bygone era in 1882.  Like many accommodations it catered for many decades to visitors arriving by and when railway travel was king.

Those circumstances had long since passed when Willard and former long-time partner Jamie MacDonald, now Mayor of North Glengarry Township, purchased the old hotel 27 years ago.

“As a former owner, I am sad to see it close,” said MacDonald. “This is an iconic Glengarry institution.”

The pair decided to follow closely the model of success by a previous owner, Dunc Macdonell, who ran the tavern for about 35 years in the 1950s to about 1990.

“The taverns were the Tim Hortons of today; people came by to chat and get the local news,” said MacDonald, reflecting on the many other small village inns which have since closed over the last couple of decades.

MacDonald parted ways amicably with Willard a few years ago. And the clock started to tick for Willard as well.

“It’s been coming,” Willard said. “And it’s not all about Covid – it’s been an accumulation of a lot of things. So, going forward it was time for me to step out of the game.”

Even without the new demands created by the pandemic, the industry has evolved, making take-out an increasingly more popular option than a sit-down meal.

“There were too many hurdles for my old school mentality,” he said. “This allows me to step away at the right time.”

He hopes that maybe by closing, it will show there is still community interest in supporting a vintage style pub, updated with the latest trends, and light a spark for new blood.

“There are changes that are needed from (new ownership); but it’s ready to go,” Willard said. “It needs someone fresh.”

He said ownership is demanding but also allowed him to have flexibility to raise a family and take part in enjoyable family outings like “going to hockey tournaments.”

The “Tic” was more than just a place to go inside for a craft brew or tasty meal. It was a second home to many, local budding musical acts and special events like snow soccer and volleyball tournaments.

MacDonald still could have a positive impact on its future. He is now a real estate agent and has the listing.

“I believe it will rise up again,” he said. “I have some interested parties who are looking at it now. So I am hoping we can get this open again as soon as possible.”

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