Devine’s to close doors after nearly 20 years in business

Devine’s to close doors after nearly 20 years in business
JARVIS—Maureen Devine, centre, is pictured with her family. In front (l-r): Addalyn, Lakyn. Behind: Emma, Elizabeth, Maureen, Joseph holding Erie, Nicole.

By Sheila Phibbs

The Haldimand Press

JARVIS—Those familiar with the 80s sitcom Cheers will recall the closing line from the theme song: “You want to be where everybody knows your name.” That wistful lyric aptly describes Devine’s Family Restaurant in Jarvis, which has been serving satisfying meals in a friendly atmosphere for almost 20 years. On December 24, Maureen Devine, her family, and staff will enjoy Christmas Eve with their customers before closing the restaurant doors for the last time.

  Maureen’s restaurant experience began in high school when she worked at Mike’s Restaurant (now The Fisherman’s Catch) in Port Dover. She then worked as a bookkeeper for many years, but when she saw that the restaurant space at the Esso gas station just north of Jarvis was empty, she decided to return to food service. With the support of family and friends, including her good friend Marcia Smelser, Devine’s Family Restaurant was established.

Devine’s is a family restaurant in the truest sense of the word. Maureen’s children, Elizabeth, Emma, and Joseph (Joe), have all worked alongside their mom. Elizabeth says jokingly, “We didn’t have a choice, we had to work.” 

Maureen laughs as she recalls a time when Joe was just 12 and a customer asked for a side of tomatoes. She says, “He brought them to her on his hand!” Years after that innocent mistake Emma says, “He turned out to be the best cook.” 

Maureen’s cousin, Patty, has always been on staff and many students have had the opportunity to work at Devine’s including Joe’s wife, Nicole, who continues to work with the family. Emma says, “We’ve seen a lot of kids grow up.”

The sense of family extends to the customers, especially those who have been with them since the beginning. After five years at the Esso location, the restaurant moved to the old fire hall for two years before settling into its permanent home on Talbot St. (Hwy 3). According to Emma, “So many people who started coming to the Esso location continued to come wherever we moved.”

Maureen concurs, “The loyal customer base has kept us going through the years.” 

Devine’s has been the setting for meetings, special dinners, and is a favourite spot for retired Stelco workers, coffee clubs, shift workers, and others. Emma says, “You get to know who comes on what days. A lot of the customers are now family and friends – we’re invited to their weddings and they were invited to ours.”

Emma and Elizabeth credit their mom for the strong bond she forged with her customers and the community. Emma says, “People don’t realize the amount that mom has donated to the community.” Elizabeth adds, “Or mom has given them a discount.” 

JARVIS—The Devine’s Restaurant ‘family’. Kneeling (l-r): Olivia, Christine. Standing: Amelia, Nicole holding Erie, Joseph, Brittany, Grace, Jasmine, Paige, Maureen, Owen, Patty. —Submitted photos.

The Jarvis Lions honoured Maureen with the Melvin Jones Fellowship at their December 13 meeting. This distinguished award recognizes significant and outstanding service to the community. For many years Devine’s was the location to purchase “Nevada Tickets”, which generated a profit for the Lions. Maureen also supported the Lions food drives and provided the food for their “Breakfast with Santa” at no cost to the club.

Maureen’s generosity has been felt by various groups such, including the Lions and local churches. 

Closing the restaurant was something Maureen had considered, but the decision was made when the opportunity to sell arose. The property is slated for a future housing development. 

Reflecting on their history, Elizabeth says the restaurant industry is very different from 2003. Maureen notes, “It was a lot easier to get help then…. Even before COVID it was hard to get help.” 

COVID did have an impact and she especially missed holding customer appreciation events. To adapt during the pandemic, frozen meals were introduced and Maureen says, “We did well…. The community has really supported us.”

That support continued after reopening last June and the busy pace has carried through December. There are special plans for the final days leading up until Christmas, including December 17, opening night of the Jarvis Light Up tour. From 5 to 7 p.m. visitors are welcome to come in for hot chocolate and Christmas cookies while they are in Jarvis to view the lights.

Christmas Eve is a particular highlight at Devine’s; the whole family works that day, though Maureen says with a smirk, “Emma spends more time socializing than working.” 

The mood will be festive, but that day will be bittersweet. Maureen admits the reality of closing hasn’t fully sunk in. The family is feeling nostalgic as the restaurant is where all their family occasions take place. Elizabeth says, “It will be weird. Usually we just congregate here because we know mom will be here.” Emma adds, “I probably owe mom a lifetime of coffee!” 

Just as the family will miss operating Devine’s Family Restaurant, the community will miss this popular gathering place where the food and hospitality have been plentiful and the company exceptional. 

To them Maureen says, “We would like to finish with a huge thank you to our amazing customers for their support over the years and to all the excellent staff who have become like family. I am proud and thankful to have been born and raised in such a caring community. Merry Christmas and the best New Year to each and every one of you!”