DERRY — It was final call for a popular restaurant last weekend, bringing out the faithful for one last meal and a lot of goodbyes.
The Pinkerton Tavern on Manchester Road closed its doors Sunday. A crowd of regulars filled the building, hoping to wish proprietors Guy Streitburger and Jen Lutzen well.
The tavern was one of 15 properties standing in the way of the town's Route 28 widening project from the Crystal Avenue/Tsienneto Road intersection up toward Ashleigh Drive.
Built in stages between 1735 and 1816, the building was once a general store run by Elder James Pinkerton. In 1814, Pinkerton and his brother John went on to help fund Pinkerton Academy.
Streitburger and Lutzen have run the tavern since 2002, leasing space from building owner Arnold Goldstein. As part of the Route 28 land acquisition plan, the town agreed to pay the couple $305,000 to help them relocate their business and vacate the tavern by March 15.
The town's dealings with Goldstein were a separate transaction, falling under an eventual eminent domain proceeding.
Paul and Kathy Harrison of Derry took up a favorite spot at the restaurant's large wooden bar on the final day. The couple said they have come to the tavern many times through the years.
"We've spent every Christmas Eve here with Guy and Jen, and our families," Kathy Harrison said. "They always made us feel welcome. They are great, great people and we are going to miss this tavern."
Paul Harrison glanced around the bar area and noticed all the familiar faces of people who wanted to be at the tavern that last day.
"These are all people who came here over the years," he said. "Wherever (Jen and Guy) go, they will get the following."
As the restaurant's faithful said goodbye, many said they would miss the ambiance and the feeling of always being among friends at the tavern.
"Over the years, we came here every Sunday night," said Lisa Ehrlich of Windham. "We made lasting memories here."
Ehrlich said when she first moved to the area, she met new friends at the Pinkerton Tavern.
"They always knew us here," she said. "A familiarity is gone."
David Spirdione of Derry brought his family to the tavern for one last bowl of his favorite clam chowder.
"We're saying goodbye," he said. "We're here for the good food, obviously, and we'll get a last bowl."
Several options remain as to what might happen to the historic Pinkerton Tavern, Town Administrator John Anderson said earlier this year. The worst-case scenario would be to demolish the building.
Lutzen said people are calling her "left and right" to wish her well.
Guests Sunday signed a special book as they entered the restaurant. Others brought framed photos taken during earlier times spent at the tavern.
Lutzen said she hopes she and Streitburger can stay local and start again.
"We're looking," she said, "and we're hoping to resurface in Derry."
Until then, Lutzen said, she will keep people informed about what the next step is through a Pinkerton Tavern Facebook page and on the website.
She said the last day was special, a great send-off for the tavern.
"There's a lot of love here," Lutzen said.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to derrynews.com.