Jimmy Hill grew up in a large family. But for the last 15 years, he’s been one of the owners of a business that has been like family to many people in Verona: O’Neil’s Restaurant & Pub. “It’s been like having everyone over for dinner every night,” he says. “Except I don’t have to clean up.”
This weekend–perhaps (we’ll explain more in a moment)–will be the last call at O’Neil’s. Hill and partner Jack O’Neil have sold their location to John MacEvoy and Ariane Duarte. What the owners of the Verona Inn and CulinAriane plan on doing there is story for another day. This weekend, in the minds of many in Verona, it’s all about O’Neil’s.
Hill and O’Neil bought the space on the western side of Verona that had once been known as The Nest, and turned it into a destination for music, food and, yes, a drink or two. And its loyal patrons have been reminiscing about it all on Facebook:
But more than perhaps anything else, it was a destination for friends who talked, laughed and played some killer games of trivia. Hill admits that he would frequently drop in at the business to do one simple thing and leave three or four hours later because he’d gotten talking. “I have made some great friends because I had O’Neil’s,” he says.
Hill is very mindful of these memories, and he wants everyone to know that he and Jack will still be around to share them, if not in that location. “Sometimes in life, it’s time for a change,” says Hill. “I’m a partner in seven other businesses. This gives me time to focus and re-energize one of the other businesses.”
The winter has played a little bit of havoc with the closing plans. The liquor license at O’Neil’s must be transferred to its new owners by the Verona Town Council, but it didn’t meet as planned this week, so patrons might be able to grab a beer and a bite for a few more days, even after the weekend. “It’s been a business that I have enjoyed very much,” says Hill. “It’s been a pleasure to meet and serve the people of Verona.”