Just in time for its 30th anniversary, the Wellington Party Center is again welcoming patrons.
The establishment shuttered its doors soon after the passing of owner Tim “Big Dog” Graham in December with no date set to reopen.
In May, Big Dog’s daughter, Megan Graham, learned she was still listed as co-owner of the property and decided to carry on with the family business.
“I had a baby in 2014 and had stopped working at the store,” she said. “When my dad passed away, the guy who came in to take my place said my dad was 100 percent owner. My dad and I had been partners previously. We thought the store was completely in his name and had no idea I was still on there. It was basically a transfer on death when it passed to me.”
“I decided to come back because I didn’t want the store to stay closed. It needed to stay in the family,” she added.
Seeing the glow of the open sign again was enough to bring a smile to many customers’ faces. Knowing a Graham was retaining ownership made it even sweeter, she said.
“Nothing is changed at all,” said Graham. “It’s the same company and everything is the same. Everyone has seemed really excited. I’ve worked for my dad since I was about 12 years old. Every weekend I’d work at the store with him and I still see a lot of faces I’ve known my whole life. I really missed it when I left. It’s been really fun to be back.”
Graham has also taken over sole ownership of Big Dog Catering while Dog Tracks Diner, located adjacent to the party center, will remain in the hands of family friends Danny Kinser and Bonnie Chalmers.
“They’ve been great friends of my dad’s for years and they were all partners,” Graham said. “They were partners in the catering, then my dad took over the catering and Bob took over the diner. They owned the restaurant well-before my dad passed. I know it’s in good hands.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.