MARIETTA — Just like in the popular television show “Cheers,” Marietta residents had a place where everybody knew their name.
Shillings on the Square was a homely English-style corner pub and restaurant on Marietta Square for four decades, where patrons always knew they would either see a familiar face, or make a new friend, while sitting at the solid oak bar.
It was THE place for first dates, Sunday dinners, wakes and wedding receptions. Shillings brought people together, and made them feel good.
Such were the shared fond memories of about 40 people gathered in Marietta on Friday to remember Shillings, many still feeling a sense of loss after its closure two months ago.
“There was one place I knew I could go on the Square and sit and be comfortable and enjoy a nice conversation with a stranger, and that was at Shillings,” said retired Marietta policeman Tommy Maloney. He was one of five panelists at the Marietta Museum of History’s latest Remember When Club event, which focused on the old pub.
“Right now we don’t have a go-to place for the Maloney clan because we get together once a month, at least, to eat dinner together and to relax and there’s just no other place like Shillings,” he said.
Three other Maloney siblings, Mary, Tina and Mark, were also at the Remember When Club event to share their experiences of Shillings and learn of others’.
“When I think of Shillings, I think of it sometimes of when I’m a child, walking across those wood floors, the way they creaked, looking at those steel bins that had all those nails in, that you were wanting to put your hands in but you can’t do that with nails because it hurts,” said Mary (Maloney) Chappell. “I remember growing up that they sold, this is back when people bought baby chicks for Easter, and they would sell the brightly Easter-egg-colored chicks.”
Chappell said the pub’s corner location on the Square was part of its charm.
“Wherever you sat, on the first floor or second floor of Shillings, you could pretty much see out to the Square and see your roots and the history of where you grew up, and it just made you feel like you were home,” she said. “I’m going to definitely miss that part of it. You would always run into your neighbors and old friends, it was a high school reunion half the time.”
Dave Reardon owned and operated Shillings from 1978 to late 2019, when the 74-year-old closed the doors to retire. Reardon was unable to attend Friday’s museum event about the pub because he was ill.
Former Marietta Councilman Philip Goldstein, whose family owns the Shillings building and several others on the Square, was one of the event’s panelists and shared details of Shillings’ history and future.
He said his father and cousin purchased the building from the Schilling family estate around 1976.
The Schilling family had operated a hardware store in the building for around 50 years, called Schilling’s Hardware. But they didn’t want their name associated with a bar, with alcohol still being somewhat controversial, so the C in Schilling was dropped and the pub became Shillings, records show.
Goldstein said the building is leased to another restaurateur who hopes to open in a few months, pending the completion of repairs, maintenance and refurbishing.
The MDJ spoke recently to new Shillings owner Randy McCray, who also owns The Mill Kitchen and Bar in Roswell. McCray said his new restaurant on the Square will not keep the name Shillings, but he hopes it’ll become an institution nonetheless.
According to an MDJ article published in 1978, when Shillings became a bar and restaurant, it was the first establishment on Marietta Square to hold a liquor license in 120 years.
The article stated some of the furnishings in the new restaurant included stained glass windows and wall panels from a Savannah church, and that the oak bar and its long mirror, estimated at the time to be over 100 years old, were purchased at an Atlanta auction but hailed from Chicago.
Other historic accounts of the building detail its elevator, installed in the 1930s, that was the oldest working elevator in Cobb County when Shillings opened some 40 years later.
Reardon built the restaurant’s restrooms in the old elevator shaft, Goldstein said, adding that the building itself had to be reconstructed in the 1930s after it was badly damaged by fire.
“So the structure from the 1930s is what you see today,” Goldstein said.
He remembered having dinner with his fellow council members at Shillings after each council meeting.
“Like all of y’all, I hated to see Shillings close,” Goldstein said. “It was a landmark here, Dave has done so much for the Square.”
Chappell said she hopes the new restaurant has “that sort of Cheers atmosphere.”
“We need that because we don’t have that right now,” she said. “When we heard Shillings was closing, our hearts were sunk. We wanted to have a wake.”