“I’ll miss this place but it’s time to go”

 

 

DSC_0194By Ron Giofu

 

Owning and operating Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn has been a life’s work for Zarko Vucinic but he is at peace with the decision to sell and walk away.

“I have to be at peace,” said Vucinic. “I have to understand myself.”

Climbing stairs to get into the building and working around the restaurant and motel isn’t as easy as it used to be so Vucinic gave notice to employees last Tuesday his intention to sell the property and close the business.

Roughly 40 employees will be impacted.

“I am 92-years-old,” he said. “I have 55 years in here. What’s left for me?”

Vucinic was contemplating the sale thinking “I’m not what I used to be” and wanted more time for both himself and his daughter Grace Zec, who helps him manage the business.

“My daughter and I are here. We don’t have a day off. We don’t have time for ourselves,” he said.

The decision to sell the property means he will “have a couple of years to myself.”

Asked about his plans for the future, Vucinic simply replied, “what plans would I have at 92?”

Due to legal requirements that he give staff eight weeks notice, Vucinic said that is why he gave the notice last Tuesday. On Dec. 31, “it’s the end.” Vucinic said it was his staff that was his biggest worry when it came time to sell.

“What I was concerned with was my staff and they understood more than anybody,” he said. “They are OK. They understand. They see me every day.”

Some have been with the business for 30-35 years as well, he added, so “it’s a long time for them too.”

The restaurant and bar will close at the end of the year with the motel staying open a bit longer but the overall intention is to sell the Dalhousie St. landmark.

“I feel sad but what is the answer?” asked Vucinic. “Everything has to come to an end.”

Saying that he will miss the people that come into Duffy’s, Vucinic said Duffy’s has been his life.

“I enjoyed my life in here,” he said. “When you get to this age…. 55 years is a long time. I’ll miss this place but it’s time to go.”

Vucinic said he planned to list the property for sale and said he already had three or four calls about the land’s availability.

“I guess people are interested.”

Vucinic added that he doesn’t want to see Zec have to endure the amount of work she endures either.

“I don’t want her to stay here by herself,” said Vucinic. “We don’t have vacations, we don’t have free time now. After so long, we deserve that. Both of us.”

Looking back on his 55 years at the helm of Duffy’s, Vucinic said he is proud of his time there. He said the restaurant had 57 chairs when he and two friends purchased it. After two years, one friend dropped out while the other left the business after five years leaving Vucinic and wife Bessie – who died in 2002 – to run the business.

Vucinic said he expanded the dining room, expanded the bar, put in the marina and added the motel in two phases with 17 units built in 1972 and 18 more going up in 1990.

“I am proud of what I did and what Duffy’s has become,” he said. “That is my satisfaction.”

People from far and wide know Duffy’s and he said the restaurant and motel has always been ready to accommodate people.

After 55 years, “we did something right.”

 

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