By Deb Everts
Later this summer, the tradition will continue in Ellicottville when The Gin Mill reopens at its new home on the corner of Monroe and Washington streets. The establishment’s summer motto is, “Everything Old is New Again. August is coming.”
The new Gin Mill building complex once housed the former DJ’s Restaurant, A Touch of Ellicottville and Bike and Bean, respectively located at 26, 28 and 30 Washington St.
Owners Ed and Maribeth Rick have been in the process of moving their business for four to five years. Maribeth said they began by purchasing the buildings on the corner of Monroe and Washington streets, then completely renovating and furnishing the five residential apartment units on the second floor.
She said the units are currently available for vacation rentals under the moniker of the “Brickstone Suites.”
“The plan for moving the bar to the new location has been ongoing for these years as well,” she said. “Ground was broken on the renovations on the main level in the spring of 2018.”
The transformation of the complex required gutting the three former storefronts. Maribeth said the process began by completely tearing out the floor and digging a basement below the corner building. After that, they were able to completely reinforce the foundation of the building by pouring a concrete support in this new area.
Maribeth said their goal with the renovations is greatly inspired by the past, and they are taking the frontage back to the original look of 1890.
“Much of the village was damaged by fire in the late 1800s and, along with several modern touches, our new location will reflect many design and architectural ideas that would’ve been incorporated within the original design of the building,” she said.
The design and layout has been a team effort, going through several different phases and iterations before deciding on the final design. Ed and Maribeth’s commitment to recreating an atmosphere that retains the heart and soul of The Gin Mill, while at the same time updating the mechanical aspects such as the kitchen and restrooms, created a challenge.
With the help of the Village Planning Board, MDA Consulting Engineers, general contractor Burke Contracting and a number of other local contractors, the design is becoming a reality.
According to Maribeth, the entire front face of the buildings was removed and replaced with a more period-correct façade and all new windows. All three storefronts are now connected through the interior.
By re-opening an 18-foot portion of the brick wall that originally separated the two storefronts, they were able to connect two of the spaces together. She said they were able to reuse these bricks for much of the additional brickwork that needed to be restored and reconstructed.
The third storefront was also connected and reopened with another doorway, which had been sealed up for many years.
Giving a nod to the past, the Ricks intend to keep as much of the original Gin Mill décor as possible. Maribeth said this included relocating the original bar and 20-foot back bar to the new location in early April to be restored and refurbished. She said they had a temporary bar built and installed in the current location to remain operational during this transition.
“We realize that a lot of the magic that The Gin Mill possesses lives in the décor. All of the taxidermy, quirky signs, old portraits and classic beer advertisements will be coming with us,” she said.
The Gin Mill has been located at 20 Washington St. since its original inception in 1976. Before this, a myriad of businesses inhabited the space including other bars/restaurants and a dry goods store.
Maribeth said the story about the building housing the current Gin Mill has been handed down over the years. Established in 1976, the current Gin Mill site was a grocery store from 1921 until 1933. After 13 years of prohibition, Clarence Hughey changed the grocery store into a bar and restaurant in 1933.
“Our resident Bison, ‘Franklin,’ was so named as a nod to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who signed the 21st Amendment to repeal prohibition in 1933,” she said.
According to Maribeth, Jim and Janet Tekavec bought the building and took over the bar that was currently operating there, in 1976. She said they renamed it The Gin Mill and operated the business for about 20 years.
In 1996, they sold the business to Ed and Jeanne Clarmo, but retained ownership of the building. In August 2007, Ed and Maribeth bought The Gin Mill business from the Clarmos, and they have leased the current location the entire time.
Maribeth said it has become a family-run business with their two sons, Brian and Eddie, along with Eddie’s wife, Jessica. Future plans for transitioning the business over to the younger Ricks are in the works.
Once the new Gin Mill opens, patrons can expect the same hours with breakfast, lunch and dinner served. It will be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. all the way through last call at 2 a.m.
The Grand Opening weekend is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4 when John Frinzi and other entertainers will perform live at the “new” Gin Mill. The lineup and showtimes will be announced at a later date.
To see photos and videos of the move, as well as the ongoing construction, visit The Gin Mill’s Facebook page. For more information, go online to ellicottvilleginmill.com.