Marysville restaurant-lounge gets a makeover at age 50

MARYSVILLE – Some people nowadays like to get facelifts when they turn 50.

Well, so did Don’s Restaurant downtown on 4th Street. Actually, it was customers who encouraged owner Sam Gohar to remodel the vintage cafe and lounge. “Everything was really old,” Gohar said, adding he also got input from staff about needed changes.

He said it’s important to him to have a family atmosphere. He treats his staff and customers well. Many have been connected to the bar and restaurant for decades. They are like family, where everybody knows your name.

“It’s a ‘Cheers’ bar,” bartender Lori Holmes said of the iconic sit-com of the 1980s that had its own “Sam,” actor Ted Danson.

Visually, the lounge shows the most-obvious change with more-modern furniture, more TVs and a beautiful granite countertop at the bar, which is now on the opposite side of the room.

“We didn’t close the building” while the remodel was going on, Gohar said. “The customers kept coming and just watched the workers.”

A new pool table area takes the place of one of the old bathrooms.

New bathrooms were important for the remodel. Nice and clean instead of old and dirty, Gohar said.

Walls and ceilings were resurfaced and painted. Flooring looks like hardwood but is water-resistant.

“Customers love it,” Gohar said of the changes.

In front, there is still work to be done. He said customers like the nostalgic look of the booths, so he is going to keep those, just modernize the color with new upholstery.

What is done up front is a new banquet room for up to 20 people that can be used for free. “It’s a new feature” perfect for any type of family gathering, he said.

Gohar said much of his $200,000 investment is “behind the walls,” with new plumbing and electricity. He said he could have made the place look better for about $30,000 but he wanted to “do it right.”

“I love it here,” he said of Marysville.

Gohar said he moved to the states from Egypt 29 years ago at age 19. He had a cousin in Massachusetts, and he worked at a restaurant there and later owned one.

He came to Marysville on a trip to visit friends, and he met his future wife at a church. When they were married they decided to settle here because this is where her family is from.

When Don’s Restaurant came up for sale, Gohar became only the third owner since it opened in 1968. He’s had it now for 12 years.

Don’s is well—known for large servings of food and low prices, and Gohar said that won’t change. Rare in Marysville, they are open 24 hours. The bar opens at 9:30 a.m., and happy hour is from noon to 7 p.m. They have daily food specials and karaoke on Thursday and live music on Friday nights. There’s a large smoking area outside the restaurant and bar where people can also eat and have drinks.

Despite the upgrade, Gohar hasn’t forgotten how important the past is to his restaurant and bar.

Thanks to donations he made to the Marysville Historical Society, many of their old photographs hang on his walls, including one of the original Don’s.

You could say the more things change the more they stay the same.

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