Sullivan’s seafood restaurant plans to shutter permanently on Sunday after being in business for 32 years.
The family-owned establishment at 2019 Middle St. is a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for homestyle seafood and other casual fare. Donna Rhodes Hiott, who runs the restaurant along with her brother, owner Sammy Rhodes, said tears were shed when the decision was finalized, but she believes timing is everything.
Hiott said having recently turned 66 years old, combined with the upcoming winter and flu season and the pandemic, the signs were all there that it was time to close.
“The environment right now is too hard to keep things going,” Hiott said. “What made our decision was that it’s very hard to run a business in times like these at only 50%. We were at a point where we felt maybe it was time for me to retire and go out while we’re on top.”
Though the restaurant will close its doors on Sunday, Hiott plans keep some of the business going by setting up a website where people can continue buying their T-shirts — a souvenir highly requested by patrons.
Additionally, Hiott hopes to publish a cookbook full of the family recipes that were the most requested by diners. Her goal is to have it ready for Christmas.
The news of the eatery’s closure came late last month, but Hiott said that her brother had started the conversation several months ago. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, the family felt the timing was right to follow through.
Hiott said the family has been touched by the number of patrons from all over who have reached out and promised to return before the doors close.
“We have been here through it all, but I just told my brother it’s time now to just sit back,” Hiott said. “I’m a believer that when God closes one door he’s going to open another. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next year or so? I’d just like to see things a little calmer.”