SHINNSTON, W.Va. – Between the Sunset Ellis Restaurant, Drive-In and Flea Market, all three are considered longtime cornerstones in the Shinnston community. On June 26, one of those cornerstones closed.
The Sunset Ellis Restaurant closed for three reasons according to longtime owner Anthony Ellis.
“Mostly inflation, number one. Number two is the difficulty in getting product to make our specialties and number three no response to advertisement for kitchen help,” Ellis said.
While Ellis is sad and “hates” to close up shop, he is happy he got to do it his way.
“We wanted to ease out of it and make it sort of a happy occasion rather than a sad occasion,” Ellis said. “A happy go away if you want to call the bitter with the sweet.”
Customers swarmed the restaurant to not only have one last bite of their special Giovanni or spaghetti and meatballs, but also reminisce on their favorite memories.
“60 years ago, me and the wife had our little dinner here after we were married. I used to come here as a teenager when they had the car hops,” Shinnston resident, Bill Stutler said.
While having a family of his own, Ellis also considered customers to be a branch of his family tree.
“The customers became my family. I mean, I spend as much time with the customers as I could,” Ellis said. “When they come, I’d go sit with them, go talk with them, you know, make them feel at home.”
Ellis didn’t just serve food, but memories to regulars like Stutler.
“It’ll go but the memories will linger,” Stutler said.
Ellis, 84 years young, thought about what is next, but his customers decided that it’s time for him to finally relax after being in the food industry since the 1940s.
The Ellis family has owned the drive-in since 1955 and opened the restaurant in 1960 after originally serving food out of a trolley car.
Ellis said that people are interested in buying the property, but he isn’t fully sure yet what all they would like to buy and what would happen if they purchased it.
“Some of the memories are starting to fade but this place will never fade,” Stutler said.