Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
Final whistle for Casey Jones restaurant
CELINA - One of the city's longest operating eateries has shut its doors. Casey Jones Restaurant, 438 E. Market St., closed Monday after 42 years.
Business owner Randy Niblick, 61, said the "almost overnight" decision is bittersweet.
"I'm tired," Niblick said. "I've been contemplating this for a while but then just decided to do it. I'm retiring and it's the time to let this go."
Niblick said he called his 10 employees Monday morning before putting out a sign on the front marquee thanking his customers and informing them of the closure. "They are a bunch of good people," Niblick said of his workers. "I worked them hard. I'm the meanest boss in town. I sincerely hope that someone hires them. My employees are what made me a success."
Niblick purchased the business in 1995 from the Suhr family. Former owner Dale Suhr died in 1991.
"I mentored under Dale for years before that," Niblick said. "I learned at his heels. When it was offered to me I said absolutely."
Suhr also owned the building that now houses The Willow and the now defunct Redwood Inn and Fritz in Celina, where Niblick began his career making french fries.
"I'm not sorry about this," Niblick said early this morning. "I'll miss the customers and I'll miss being there, sure. But this was the right time and the right thing to do."
Niblick does not own the building or property, but said he is trying to sell the inventory, equipment and liquor license.
"I've had a few people come in and look," Niblick said. "I'm hoping that we'll be able to get that done."
John Bertke, one of the three owners of the building, said the building and land are not yet on the market. He hopes that since the business has been a restaurant for all these years a new buyer will keep it that way.
"I think the bad weather really did a number on the business this year," Bertke said. "That and the street being dug up for the past several months. But I know that Randy is tired. He's ready to retire. I don't blame him.
"We've had a few interested parties come and look (at the building)," Bertke said. "Some have been interesting. I'm really hoping we can keep a restaurant in it and someday I get to come back to Celina and say, hey, I owned that once."
Bertke, a former Celina resident, now lives in North Carolina. Other co-owners of the property include Linda Poor and Lois Spohn. Neither of them could be reached for comment.
Niblick said he plans on traveling, visiting relatives, fishing and relaxing.
"It's been a long 33 years," he said. "It's been a good life, but it's time to move on."
Niblick said another reason he was a success is because of his loyal customers.
"I just hope everyone keeps eating out in Celina," Niblick said. "Support your local merchants. That's important."
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