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Marbrough Tavern, an establishment that has been around since the 1740s, will close this weekend, thanks to the recession.
Since 1740, the Marlborough Tavern has been a fixture of this small town southeast of Hartford, but it will close this weekend.
The establishment, which has operated off and on as a tavern and restaurant, has been a host to presidents and even the French army during the Revolutionary War, but Saturday will be the tavern's last day until a new owner is found.
Jim Bradley took over the restaurant in 1985 with three friends. The building had been vacant since the previous owner closed the place in 1979. After a rough start, "the whole thing took off," Bradley said.
For nearly two decades, the Marlborough Tavern prospered near the center of town off Route 2. When gas prices spiked several summers ago, business took a big hit.
"It fell right off a cliff. It went down from June 2008 to July 2008," Bradley recalled.
He and a co-owner put money into the business to keep it afloat for the last three years, but with business down nearly a third, it became too much.
Bradley said losing food after Tropical Storm Irene disrupted his cash flow too much that he needed to shut the tavern's doors.
"Emotionally, it takes a toll after awhile when you realize you've been swimming hard against the tide," Bradley said.
Customers were surprised to hear about the landmark closing. Many assumed that the tavern would be in Marlborough forever.
"This is one of the places we come all the time and I can't believe it's not going to be here anymore," said Karen Pietrusziewicz, who met her husband at the tavern years ago.
Bradley said he's not sure what he's going to do yet after Saturday.
"I'll just join the 20 or 30 million other Americans in the same boat," he said.
The Marlborough Tavern will remain open through dinner on Saturday and then they will hold an auction to sell off antiques, bar, and restaurant supplies on Tuesday.