COVINGTON, Ky. – Saturday Chez Nora served up its last dish. The popular upscale eatery in Covington’s Mainstrasse Village announced Sunday it was closed after nearly 20 years of serving food with a side of jazz.
“Now where are Arnold Ray Simpson and I going to go to pow wow over the bridge???” wrote Covington Councilman Steven L. Frank on the Chez Nora Facebook page Sunday where the announcement was made.
Bought by Jim and Pati Gilliece from Nora Demsey in the 1990s the couple expanded the restaurant that sits on the corner of Main Street in the early 2000s by introducing an outdoor patio and banquet rooms, and a jazz club. The Gillieces were also the first Mainstrasse Village restaurant owners to obtain a liquor license to serve drinks with sidewalk dining.
The restaurant would have celebrated a full 20 years on May 1.
"It's very disappointing," said Jim Gilliece on Sunday of the restaurant's closing. "It's very hard to tell employees they've lost their job, but at the end of the day we just didn't have enough customers. With the winter coming now, we know the next 90 days are not going to work."
Gilliece said he and his wife's restaurant received incredible support through the years, and in turn they invested in the area as well.
"Everyone has just been wonderful," he said.
Frank’s comment about local political talk with the Kentucky state representative, along with a flood of other fond farewells, highlighted the special place the restaurant had for many area residents as well.
“Twenty Years is like 2000 years in the restaurant business and my fellow Latin school classmate Jim Gilliece and his wife Pati had a long and fruitful run. I was thrilled that we had the kickoff for my Son of a Son of a Gambler book and my dad's 80th birthday,” wrote Kentucky author Don McNay to Jim Gilliece.
Pati and Jim Gilliece said they will take a couple of weeks off to regroup before deciding what the next chapter of their lives will be.
"Pati and I are going to take a couple of weeks off, lay low, lick our wounds and then we will figure out what will happen next in our lives," he said. "Only the end of the world is the end of the world otherwise tomorrow is just a Monday. We will see what the future holds."
Addressing concerns about customers who purchased gift certificates to Chez Nora over the past few weeks, Gilliece said he hoped to partner with other Mainstrasse restaurants to honor them.
The Gillieces listed Chez Nora on loop.net for $1.2 million.