In a world where we are all adapting to the changes brought about by the coronavirus, an unwelcome change came on June 13. McAnn’s Bar and Restaurant closed. This was a tragedy for all those who knew and love Bob and Ruthie Bowen. They wanted to retire for some time and the coronavirus lockdown pushed them to make the leap and close the bar and restaurant. (The liquor store will remain open to reduce inventory, though.)
Bob Bowen cooked at McAnn’s for 50 years since going to work as a young man for the Sandusky’s. He bought the business from them and he and Ruthie served families and friends ever since. As word got out that they were really going to close, two things happened: people started calling like mad to order food while they could still get it and their daughter Kelly asked her friends through Facebook to send pictures of families who ate at McAnn’s regularly for her to post. In some cases, there were pictures of four generations of a family who were regulars at McAnn’s. Many a family or community celebration took place at McAnn’s over the years and Ruthie always made those occasions special. Who could forget her famous rendition of Happy Birthday?
In addition to being a wonderful family restaurant with good food at a very reasonable prices, Bob and Ruth were huge supporters of worthy causes within the Spencer-Van Etten community, particularly youth sports. Their kids grew up playing sports and the Bowens sponsored teams, sold pizzas at discount for fundraising, hosted team parties, and were always supportive when asked. They were also known for having the best wings around.
Another way in which the Bowens were very supportive of the community was their hosting of the Spencer-Van Etten Breakfast Club for 20 odd years. The Breakfast Club was an informal group of business persons and interested individuals who met at 7 a.m. once a month to work on ways to improve the quality of life in the greater community. It also provided a way to network, before social media was common. It generated many ideas, some of which came to fruition. Bob cooked a buffet breakfast and Ruthie kept the coffee cups full. They bore the largest share of that breakfast’s cost as their contribution to the goals and activities of the Breakfast Club.
The decision to close the bar and restaurant did not come easily. There have been many tears, some of them shed by Ruthie. It is not easy to give up one’s life’s work, as change is hard, even if it is time to enjoy a well-earned retirement. They expect to put the business on the market at some point but have not done it yet. If anyone takes it over, they will have a difficult act to follow. Few community members are as cherished as these two hard-working, loving persons who have poured their hearts and souls into the business all these years, with little time off.
On June 1, Ruthie posted the following on Facebook from her family:
“The toughest decision of closing McAnn’s Bar & Restaurant after 46 years in Business has been made. We have decided to retire. We encourage you to use gift certificate and drink chips at this time. Business as usual till Saturday June 13, 2020! Our liquor store will remain open to reduce inventory. It has been our pleasure to serve four generations of local and surrounding area families. And to have loyal staff who have helped us grow. Thank you for the love and support everyone has shown our family over the years, we have had a memorable journey!! McAnn’s has always been the place where Friends meet! From the bottom of our hearts thank you! Love, Bob, Ruthie, Kelly and Ryan Bowen”