NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Charlie O’s Tavern, a staple of the Point Judith restaurant scene for almost 30 years and a popular watering hole among college students, appears to have closed, perhaps permanently.
Locals noticed that the restaurant’s door had a sign on it Monday that said “Closed today. Thanks,” and its Facebook page has been removed.
Narragansett Acting Town Manager Sean Corrigan, who is chief of the police department, said he had received information that the bar and restaurant, located at 2 Sand Hill Cove Road, is closed permanently.
A call to the main number went to a Verizon automated message stating that the line was busy. The bar’s most recent Twitter post, inviting patrons to come and support the Boston Bruins in the playoffs, is from April 15.
“I think people are sad about it. It’s kind of a south end institution,” Town Council President Matthew Mannix said Monday. “It’s been there since I was a kid.”
Charlie O’s opened in 1990, when Charlie Samaras bought, renovated and renamed an old fishermen’s bar at the end of Point Judith Road called The Point. It became a popular restaurant that drew visitors from all corners of New England.
In 2006, Samaras decided to take a step back from the daily operation of the business and sold his shares to Chris Simon, a longtime employee, who started working at Charlie O’s in 1993 as a waiter and gradually became Samaras’ right-hand man.
Simon pledged then not to fiddle with the tried-and-true formula that made the business successful, such as its menu that included popular prime rib and baby-back ribs. The establishment was known as more of a place to eat lunch or dinner and socialize than just a bar.
Former customers and employees took to Facebook this week to remark on the closing of what some said is an institution in town.
Charlie O’s, they said, joins the ranks of other departed establishments that found their niche serving the college crowd, including Casey’s, which closed in 2012.
“Charlie O’s Tavern meant a lot to me,” Jesse Histen wrote. “Working there for the better part of a decade taught me more than any college education or any book ever could.”
John Daley called it the end of an era.
“You gave me my bar start and I appreciate all the hard work that every single person put in to teach me the ropes and give me my opportunities today as a manger of three restaurants,” Daley wrote. “We will tell tales of endless ‘appy hour’ food buffets and five dollar pitchers of Bud and Bud Light and who could forget the old pitcher of sangria with a straw on Sunday nights and the endless Journey songs played on the touch tunes.”
Others were less nostalgic, and said the restaurant’s quality had declined in recent years.
“There had been a little less business there over the years, I think some people did see this coming,” Mannix said. “But obviously it’s sad to see a business that’s been there for so long close.”
It faced some bureaucratic hurdles as well.
In 2017, Charlie O’s discontinued use of its second floor except for storage, because the fire code required a sprinkler system. At the time, Simon estimated the cost to install sprinklers to be $75,000 to $100,000.