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After 25 years of being empty, the former Newark Perkins Restaurant building hits the wrecking ball

by WayneTimes.com
March 2, 2024

Closed longer that it was open, the Newark Perkins Family Restaurant at 530 West Union Street, met the “wrecker’s ball” this week, after being closed since March 5, 1999, exactly 25 years ago.

Crews from Kent Ridley Excavating started from the inside removing stainless steel and other valuable items before demolishing the entire structure. Contrary to talk in the community, the roof had not caved in and the inside was pretty much as it was left the day the eatery closed. There were still salt and pepper shakers on the tables. The restaurant was built in 1978 at the former Goetzman & Newman Trucking garage site.  

 The Perk Development Corp. was formed by a group of Rochester area businessmen to acquire and manage properties and in 1978 a plan was put in place to bring Perkins Cake & Steak restaurants to the Rochester area. By 1998, Perk Development Corp., once the largest U.S. franchisee of Perkins Family Restaurants, operating 43 locations in New York was dissolved in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Some 25 Perkins locations were purchased by the Denny’s restaurant chain and despite rumors, Newark was not one of them and closed.

Former employee Michele Dickson started working for Perkins at age 15 and when she entered college she would be welcomed back to work part time winter and summer breaks. “I learned so much there, work ethic, responsibility, time management, and more.” said Dickson who is now retired and living in Macedon. She mentioned the custom of Perkins restaurants to close on occasion to do super cleaning and the Christmas tradition to be closed on Christmas eve day so employees could get ready for the holiday. What restaurant would do this?

A colorful part of the Newark Perkins Restaurant history was the “Knights of the Long Table”, a group of retired men, representing all professions, who would gather each day and talk about the latest in politics, sports, and urban renewal.. Eventually the wives of these men gathered at a separate in the restaurant to keep an eye on what the men were up to.

So, now the Newark Perkins is history, and there are no plans for the property, but wait....remember the huge flag and pole that was a Perkins trademark? It was gifted to the village of Newark and still stands tall at all events at Colburn Park.   

It is still possible to own a Perkins franchise. Perkins, now a division of Huddle House, is still a nationwide operation with over 300  franchised restaurants in the U.S.- and if you have a $ 1 million net worth and $400,000 in liquid assets, you can be next.  

Story by Times writer John Zornow-With Credits to the Newark Courier Gazette, and Rochester Business Journal

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