Huntington Station Restaurant and Sports Pub has seen plenty of glorious days during its 10-year run in downtown Morgan Hill. But all good runs eventually come to an end.
So it is for owners Dan and Debra Creighton, who recently announced the eatery will be closing its doors for good in July after they were unable to reach a new lease deal with their landlord.
“We just couldn’t come to terms (on a deal),” Debra said. “It doesn’t make sense for us financially to pay the amount of rent at a time when you can only use 30 to 40 percent of your normal capacity of the restaurant. I would rather pull the bandaid off first than bleed off slowly.”
The current lease on the property on Third Street—in the old Morgan Hill Times building—expires on July 16. But Dan Creighton said June 29 that the restaurant might not be able to open for customers at all before the lease expires, as it may not be cost effective to do so.
The impending closure of Huntington Station—formerly known as Glory Days which was on Monterey Road for six years prior to changing its location and name to its current location on Third Street—wasn’t a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it’s no secret the restaurant industry faces a tough, uphill climb going forward with increases to minimum wage, rent and workers compensation.
In addition, restaurants will be hamstrung by physical distancing guidelines, resulting in limited seating and service capacity.
“For the foreseeable future, running a restaurant could be a luxury item,” Debra said. “With costs going up because of everything we face, at what point are customers going to say, ‘I’m not going to pay $20 for an order of calamari?’ It’s going to happen at some point.”
Huntington Station became a popular hangout spot and had plenty of regulars, including Margaret Kelso, who frequented the restaurant twice a week with her husband, Tim. They spent their weekly date nights on Wednesdays at Huntington Station, along with a Saturday or Sunday, depending on if there was a big sports contest or other event going on like a fundraiser. What made Huntington so special?
“It was the Morgan Hill version of Cheers,” Kelso said. “You had the same regulars going there, we made countless friends and everyone was like family. Huntington brought people together, and it was a place we could all meet. It’s just a huge loss and so sad.”
Kelso added that the Creightons treated their employees and customers like family, creating a warm, inviting and safe atmosphere. While Dan took pride in doing construction work, structural improvements and maintenance on Huntington Station, he said the place was Debra’s baby.
“She was the one who ran Huntington Station and made it what it was,” Dan said.
When it became apparent negotiations to renew the lease weren’t going to work out, Debra realized the end was near.
“It is a little bittersweet going through the stages of grief,” she said. “I went through sadness and madness, and now I’m at peace with the countdown (to the end).”
Huntington Station held special events for five Saturdays in May before reopening for outdoor dining only on June 5. The establishment had 11 tables and 24 barstools available, continuously filled throughout the day with a waiting list.
“Being there for a couple of hours brought a sense of normalcy to our lives,” Kelso said. “So this is a huge loss, especially during Covid.”
Debra said she appreciated all of the customers who came not just for special occasions, but on their way home from work just to drop in and say hello. She takes pride in the fact that Huntington Station was a go-to spot for many people in Morgan Hill.
“I had written letters to customers and said I always wanted this place to be a source of good times and good fun,” Debra said. “That’s something I know we accomplished, whether it was from St. Patrick’s Day to (Kentucky) Derby Day to barbecues, we had a good run.”
A good run indeed.