Fork Union Village Restaurant says goodbye after 15 years

By Page H. Gifford

It has been a staple in the village of Fork Union for over 20 years, but on May 26 Keith and Julie Jones, the current owners of the Fork Union Village Restaurant, announced they were closing its doors.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we must say to our loyal customers, that we will be closing until further notice due to the economic impact the Coronavirus has had on our business. For almost 16 years you have all become family to us, and we sincerely hope to be serving our friends and community again soon,” said Keith and Julie Jones in their Facebook post.

The village restaurant, as it is known by locals, was one of two restaurants that could boast of steady customers form Fork Union and the surrounding area. Sal’s across the street remains. Restaurants have been the hardest hit among small businesses and Fork Union has suffered from businesses either closing or leaving the area prior to COVID-19.

The regular customers recall the comfortable, casual, rustic atmosphere with the prominent yellow and red sign above the kitchen that said “You don’t have to be crazy to work here…we’ll train you.” The Jones’ found the sign years ago in Atlantic City.

“We’ve had many employees during our almost 16 years. We can’t name all of them, but we do want to express our love and appreciation to our current crew. They are wonderful, hard-working, dependable, loving, and yes, a bit crazy at times. We are one happy, sometimes dysfunctional family.” This bonding among staff and management cannot be repeated in a corporate atmosphere where people come and go like revolving doors. It is special in places like this, everyone is family and the reason so many customers kept returning.

It was also the home-style cooking that brought people back — like Bob and Flo Strohmayer. They would come by for dinner after an afternoon concert at Carysbrook Performing Arts Center. He would always order the fried mushrooms and rave about them. Okra can be an acquired taste but their fried okra was what southern country cooking was all about. Their side dishes, which could make a meal in themselves, were always a favorite among the customers, including the squash casserole. But it was the pies and cakes that always got attention, particularly Kieth’s chocolate layer cake.

“The Village Restaurant was the go-to place for our family celebrations. Our daughters loved eating there and would always choose the Village when asked where they wanted to eat. Those of us who live in this part of the county will miss the friendly atmosphere and good food. I am sad to see them close, and I wish only the best for Keith and Julie in the future,” said Tricia Johnson.

“From all of us at The Village, we thank you again, and hope you all stay safe during these difficult times,” said Julie.

This may not be their final farewell and customers hope the restaurant will re-open but in these uncertain times, no one knows for sure when that will be. But Keith and Julie Jones can always count on the devotion and loyalty of their community.

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