To voice your opinion about what type of restaurant you’d like the Willow to be, send an email to mooneydeanna560@gmail.com .

It was a favorite for anniversaries and first dates and for a hearty meal of steak and potatoes and, at least for now, the Willow Steakhouse in Jamestown is no more.

Kevin Mooney, vice president of Jimtown Willow Main Inc., said the owners closed the restaurant Monday morning and are not sure when, or if, it will reopen.

He said the restaurant was not making money, needs to be renovated and has been brought into a divorce action by someone claiming it should be considered community property.

“It’s very likely we’re going to have to start over again,” Mooney said. “Whole new concept, whole new menu.”

It depends on what they find when they empty the building and see what they’ve got.

“Whatever we do is going to be costly,” he said. “If we can’t put it together right we’re not going to do it.”

He knows the kitchen floor needs replacing and everything needs cleaning. Walls need paint. He said some doors are being held in place with clips.

“We’ve been putting Band-Aids on everything,” he said. “Now we need to take the Band-Aids off and see what stays together.”

Once the shareholders see what it’s going to take to repair the building they will decide whether to reopen, he said.

The building is also for sale. Loopnet.com lists the 2,700-square-foot building and liquor license at $599,000.

The building at the corner of Main and Willow street was built in 1896 as the Jamestown Hotel by John Pereira. He was a businessman of many interests — a blacksmith, winemaker, farmer. At one time he owned 350 acres of orchards. Pereira’s house still stands across the street from the Willow.

The Sierra Railway arrived in 1897, buying up much of Pereira’s land and turning Jamestown into a place of significant commerce.

It’s unknown what happened to that original building - most local historians say it was probably destroyed in a fire.

The replacement has had many uses but it has consistently included a bar/saloon. Mooney said they had a hotel register from the early 1900s that included the names William McKinley and Bat Masterson. A handwriting expert validated the signature of the gunslinger but Mooney’s not convinced it wasn’t some joker signing the president’s name.

“I wouldn’t swear to either of them,” Mooney said.

McKinley was assassinated in 1901 so it is unlikely it was actually him.

Mooney’s father and two partners bought the business in1972 and at one time it was considered among the finest restaurants in Tuolumne County.

The building is also known for the ghosts it keeps , dozens of them. The story goes that the spirits of some of the miners who died in a cave-in under what’s now the dining room never left.

Diners in booths 7 and 9 have said they’ve felt something tug on their hair.

Mooney said job one is getting all the perishables out of the building before the garbage is picked up on Wednesday. There’s all sorts of stuff in the hotel, some forgotten some not.

He found a huge box of paprika - no date on when it was bought - so it’s garbage.

Drawers are filled with things saved for later but he hasn’t gotten into those far enough to know if there are any keepsakes.

He said the partners are eager to hear from people about what sort of restaurant they’d like to see in that space. Lots of their patrons come from the Bay Area, and are looking for vegan and vegetarian options. Steakhouses these days are not as popular as they once were, he said.

“It’s our hope that we can be in business again in the not-too-distant future,” Mooney said.




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