After nearly four decades in operation, the iconic Johnson City restaurant, affectionately known as PR’s to many of its regular customers, served up its last sandwich and filled its last cup of Maxine’s Finest Iced Tea last week.
Poor Richard’s Campus, 825 W. Walnut St., officially closed its doors sometime after Thanksgiving, and loyal customers are mourning the end of an era.
Owners of the business could not be reached for comment. The phone number associated with the business has been disconnected.
Tom Carr, leaseholder of the property, said he was surprised to learn the business shut down and moved out over Thanksgiving weekend.
“I just went over there Monday and it was closed,” he said.
The building is available for lease, and Carr said he’s already had some interest in the property.
While the building that housed Poor Richard’s wasn’t located on ETSU’s campus, it was an extension of the university and acted as a favorite gathering place for administration, faculty and students alike.
In the late 1980s, a group of about 10-15 ETSU faculty members began meeting at the restaurant every Friday at 4 p.m. to welcome the weekend.
“This was quitting time — 4 p.m. on Fridays. Originally, it had been at The Cottage, but we decided to go to Poor Richard’s when the group got bigger,” said ETSU physics professor David Close.
When some of that group began to retire, the weekly Poor Richard’s lunches began to taper off.
But Close and a group of retired ETSU faculty members picked the tradition back up about eight years ago and met at Poor Richard’s every Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Last week was the group’s last PR’s supper.
“The problem was we could anticipate the closure. We were the only ones there. It used to be so crowded, at least on those Friday gatherings. There were hardly any places to sit and at the end, we were at that table on the raised platform and we were the only ones in the place,” Close said.
Close said the restaurant’s employees were busy taking down artwork and signs during the last couple of weeks the restaurant was in operation.
Although he’s sad to see that the restaurant is no more, Close has fond memories of the food, the people and the good times spent inside Poor Richard’s walls.
“We could spread out. There was plenty of room and it was inexpensive. When we left, it was still $5 for a pitcher,” he said. “I used to like it. I would have lunch there, then go back at 4 o’clock. I liked the menu and I liked the people and the big group that we met with.”
Editor's note: An eariler version of this article incorrectly identified Jenny Carmical as the business owner of Poor Richard's and Jen-Rich Inc.
Carmical sold Poor Richard's and Jen-Rich Inc. to Melvin Bentley in 2006, according to sale documents. Bentley later sold the business to Mark Malone, who was the last business owner before the restaurant closed its doors last week, according to Carmical.
Tom Carr is the leaseholder of the property, which is owned by Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children Inc.