Historic Grand Central Tavern closes

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

DonCarolynCostinby Fred Groves

An Essex landmark that can trace its roots back to the 1800’s has closed its doors and turned off its lights for the final time.

The Grand Central Tavern, known to locals simply as the ‘Grand’, at 64 Talbot St. N, is officially for sale and its long time owner, Carolyn Costin, has retired.

“It was our decision to do this. It was in the works for three months. I am tired (and) I can’t take it anymore. Seven days a week is just too much,” said Costin.

Her youngest son Michael has been managing the bar side of the tavern. In all, there were eight full and part-time employees.

“If someone wants to buy it, it’s just a turn key walk-in,” said Carolyn.

Carolyn and Don Costin took over the business from Don’s father who bought it in 1947. According to historian and author Sharon Mulcaster, the original hotel was built in 1870 by Gordon Wigle as part of the stagecoach stop at the Taylor Farm near the present site of Amico’s Motel.

In 1873 it was moved to the present location on main street and renamed the Palmerston Villa. It was renamed the American House in 1887 and the Grand Central Hotel in 1900.

“This business has been in the Costin family since 1947. There has been five generations working here,” said Carolyn.

For many years it was a three-story building and housed apartments in the upper levels. However, the building was demolished, rebuilt and renamed the Grand Central Tavern following the 1980 explosion.

At 71, Carolyn Costin no longer has the day-to-day concerns of running a business that included a restaurant, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It is going to be quite a change. I am going to be able to visit my family,” she said.

For many, the ‘Grand’ has been a welcoming watering hole that provided great food and entertainment such as the popular local band Big Wiggle.

“I have loved every minute of it. It’s not a job, but all good things must come to an end,” said Costin.

She said she has met a lot of great people, some whose weddings she attended.

“I grew up in this town. I am going to miss the people.”