ROWLEY – The last of six Spud’s Restaurant and Bar locations is closing in January, marking the end of a 35-year run for owner Bruce Spaulding and his family.
Spaulding said he is selling the Route 1 business and building to Corey Matthews, the owner of the Boat House Grille and the Blue Marlin Grille, both in Essex, for a price he declined to reveal.
“It’s been a great run, I’ve had a lot of positive memories,” Spaulding said in a Tuesday phone interview.
Spaulding, with the help of his parents, Dick and Alberta, opened the first Spud’s on Endicott Street in Danvers in 1984. Over the next several years, he opened other locations in Saugus, Woburn, Brockton and North Hampton, N.H., along with Rowley. One by one they closed with the Saugus location being the second to last to shutter its doors in June 2018.
According to Spaulding, Matthews actively pursued buying Spud’s for years until Spaulding decided to pull the trigger earlier this year. Spaulding, a Topsfield resident, said the deal would have never happened had Matthews not assured him that his roughly 30 employees would be hired for the new restaurant.
“It’s the biggest reason that we came to terms, it was very much on our minds. We’ve had employees working here 35 years – the majority, 20 to 25 years, they’re still here,” Spaulding said.
Calls to Matthews for comment were not immediately returned, but Spaulding said Matthews will keep Spud’s open for a few weeks before closing the restaurant for major renovations.
According to the town’s online assessor’s database, 255 Newburyport Turnpike was last assessed at $637,800 and was purchased by Spaulding in 1985 for $272,500. It was built in 1930 and has 5,666 square feet of space.
In mid-September, the Rowley Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the transfer of Spaulding’s liquor license to Matthews. According to the minutes of the meeting, Michael McCarthy, a representative of Matthews, told selectmen there were no plans to change the nature of the restaurant. “He said Matthews plans to provide a good product at a good price in a family-friendly environment,” according to the minutes.
Matthews hopes to open his restaurant with 190 seats after making upgrades and floor plan changes. Hours for serving alcohol will remain the same: Monday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Spaulding announced the restaurant’s closing on Nov. 29, on its Facebook page. In a statement, Spaulding wrote that it was a bittersweet decision.
“I will miss operating Spud’s every day and being part of the communities I love. I will especially miss connecting with the employees of Spud’s in Rowley whose dedication and friendships have made it all possible,” Spaulding wrote.
To celebrate the restaurant’s long history, Spaulding is rolling back prices on one entree to what it sold for in 1984 each Monday and Tuesday throughout December. A full list of entrees, dates and prices can be found on Spud’s Facebook page.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.