Gordo’s Restaurant & Lounge, a fixture on Hawthorne’s Commerce Street where locals celebrated birthdays, grabbed a drink after work or hung out with friends for nearly 40 years, shut its doors on Sunday.
Forlorn customers, many of whom were longtime regulars, gathered one last time on the final afternoon to remember an old-fashioned neighborhood establishment where their fellow patrons became extended family.
“I live here in town, I drink here in town and that’s what I’ll miss most,” said Hawthorne resident Lenny Sasin. “The familiarity with the people, the closeness of the people and the owner’s a gentleman.”
Owner Mike Schliman said he had been operating month to month with the landlord and had hoped to work out a more stable arrangement but couldn’t come to terms. He let his staff know on Thursday that Sunday would be the last day.
The landlord of record is Gordon Krueger and Arthur Greason, according to the Mount Pleasant assessor’s office.
Schliman said he bought Gordo’s 13 years ago after tending bar for the previous eight years. The one-story structure, which had a dining room on one side and the bar with flat screen televisions that typically showed ballgames on the other, had been known as Gordo’s since 1980, he said. Before that it was Colonial Tavern and had been a similar type of operation for generations.
“I’ll miss the people. I made some tremendous friends,” Schliman said. “I’ve celebrated people’s birthdays, their kids, moms and dads.”
It wasn’t surprising that most of the people in Gordo’s on Sunday were Mount Pleasant residents. Danny Madera, who’s lived in town for about 10 years, said he and his friends would stop by every Thursday after softball practice for good beer and delicious chicken wings.
He said it was a surprise having learned about the closure just a few days earlier. Madera said he thought Schliman was joking.
“You see the regulars that are here all the time,” Madera said. “You see the bartenders, you see the owner, you see family and friends that are here all the time. This place was well-respected for God knows how many years, and it’s just going to be weird.”
His friend, Chris Fanelli, of White Plains, said he didn’t have any suggestions about where to go now that Gordo’s is gone.
Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce President Tom Milliot said he’s aware that a good segment of the community is saddened by Gordo’s closure. While the restaurant and bar business has long been a difficult challenge, it’s even more so today, he said.
“The chamber is sorry to see an institution like Gordo’s closed and we certainly hope that it can reopen in the future,” Milliot said.
Schliman said resurrecting the business is not out of the question. He will be looking for new locations, preferably in the Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville area, so it would be easy for the many regulars to return.
The closure will also force employees to make other plans. Sabrina Johnston, who worked as a waitress for the past seven months but was a patron years ago when she attended SUNY Purchase, said watching a local, family-owned business close hurts.
“It’s such a beautiful place,” she said. “It’s a comforting place to land and really I have such respect for (Schliman) and it’s a family and the they cared. You don’t find that much anymore.”
Rich DeNatale, who was sitting at the bar with Bob Colella and bartender John Desimone, said the shuttering of a small, family-owned business is typical of what’s happening all over the county, particularly with restaurants. Desimone added that since Gordo’s was a fun and comfortable neighborhood meeting place it won’t be easily replaced.
“You might not see someone for a couple of weeks but you might see them in Gordo’s,” he said.