The 88 Restaurant & Lounge plans to close its doors Saturday, July 11, citing financial strain related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

88 Restaurant & Lounge to close doors July 11; Bicentennial Inn will remain open

BUCKHANNON – On July 1, the 88 Restaurant & Lounge announced the restaurant will be closing soon.

“It is with a sad and heavy heart [we must] inform everyone that The 88 Restaurant & Lounge will be closing its doors on July 11,” a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page read Wednesday. “We will be serving food outside at our pavilion this week Wednesday-Friday (July 1-3) and next week, Wednesday-Saturday (July 8-11), with our final day being on July 11.”

“We hope you can come out and support us in our final days being open,” the post continued. “Events at the property will still proceed with the exception of food. If anyone has an event that they would like catered, we can make suggestions and work with you to make those events a successful one.”

General manager of the 88 Restaurant & Lounge and the Bicentennial Inn Carl ‘Robbie’ Martin said Wednesday the COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on the restaurant’s operations.

“When COVID-19 hit in my business, it was the worst time to shut everything down,” Martin said. “We missed out on three of our four largest events in the year, and in that time frame, that’s when we make, in my business, almost half of our year’s income, so it was detrimental.”

“I tried opening back up, but everything’s still very slow,” he added. “It was just so big of a hit that the best thing for me as a business is trying to lease it out to someone else and see what they can do with it.”

Martin said the restaurant will still be open for outside dining at the pavilion July 1 through July 3 and July 8 through July 11. The 88 Restaurant & Lounge will post their menus on their Facebook page at 7:45 p.m. each day.

“I wanted to give my employees some time to try to work things out, and that’s as long as I could give them was July 11,” Martin said. “I greatly appreciate everyone – all patrons of our restaurant, and it’s very sad. I just want to thank all of you; that’s the biggest thing, and I just hope we can find someone else to come into the spot and have another wonderful restaurant.”

Martin said the Bicentennial Inn will operate normally, and owner of the newly opened 88 Salon, Pam Bucklew, posted Tuesday that her new business will remain open.

Martin said the 88 has always been his favorite place to eat – even before he took charge of it several years ago.

“Before I ever even took over, this was always my favorite restaurant and I remember someone would say, ‘Where’s the best restaurant in town?’ I would say, ‘The 88, that’s the best restaurant in town,’” Martin said. “I was blessed to be able to take it over three years ago, and I just wish we weren’t in this predicament.”

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