Bridge Tavern closing brings end to an era

The Bridge Tavern in Point Edward has closed. Journal Photo

Cathy Dobson

There’s been an outpouring from former customers since Vicky and John Brodimas closed the historic Bridge Tavern two weeks ago.

The restaurant’s Facebook page is packed with tributes and the real sense a much-loved Point Edward landmark has been lost.

Mike Somes wrote: “My parents and I have been eating at your establishment for over 40 years and have never once not enjoyed a meal. The best fish and chips around, now where are we going to go?”

Said Tracey Hart: “My family has been coming to the Bridge Tavern since emigrating from the UK in 1970 and I eat there at least once a week still. I am so sorry to hear you are closing, that is the end of an era.”

The Brodimas family has owned The Bridge Tavern at 109 Michigan Ave. for 38 years, serving up homemade soups, butter tarts, rolls and more.  Their son George calls it comfort food.

“I know people will miss it because we’ve had so many generations of regular customers,” he said. “But my mother and father worked 16 to 18 hours a day since they bought it in 1978.

“They were very, very tired.  It’s hard seeing your mom and dad tired all the time.”

George said his parents had the restaurant and tavern up for sale but there were no takers.

“They talked about closing at the end of this summer, but then my father suddenly just said, ‘This is it.’ There was no health reason. He was just exhausted.”

John Brodimas baked his final batch of famous Bridge Tavern butter tarts on his final day of business June 30.

When the Brodimases bought The Bridge Tavern, it had been open for at least 20 years already, giving it a history that goes back more than 59 year, said George.

Wikipedia calls it the oldest establishment in Point Edward, a household name and local favourite eatery.

George remembers how busy it was in the 1970s and ‘80s when it was a popular breakfast, lunch and dinner spot, and catered to those who liked dancing to live music well into the night.

Big Kenny was the primary entertainer in the early years and Joan Spalding and her band were regularly on stage the past 16 years.

“They were beautiful people to work with,” said Spalding.  “At one time we played every Thursday to Sunday night and people would come for New Year’s and Christmas for dinner and dancing.

A tradition developed in the ‘70s for patrons to make $1 and $2 bills into flying airplanes that were shot into the textured ceiling above the front counter. Every now and then, John Brodimas would collect the money and donate it to groups like Point Edward Minor Hockey.

In 1987, the restaurant had a major expansion when the Brodimases added a large banquet room. Twenty-five waitresses were needed to keep up with the crowds of customers at the 200-seat restaurant.

But times change, and George said the coming of the Point Edward Casino severely impacted business.

So did the no-smoking bylaws in restaurants and taverns, he said.

“It’s time to move on,” he added.  “We are thankful for all those who supported us over the years.”

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.