Jollie’s in Ridgefield to close after 54 years

Co-owners of the roadside restaurant say looming development and ‘fair offer’ prompted sale

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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RIDGEFIELD — Jollie’s Restaurant & Lounge, the family owned watering hole for locals and passing truckers in Ridgefield, will close for good Sunday night.

Restaurant owners said they sold the 4-acre property to developers Killian Pacific, a Vancouver firm that owns most the surrounding property.

Closing has so far been a “pretty emotional” experience, they said Wednesday. Besides the more than 20 people who work there, restaurant mainstays are sad to see it go, they said.

“There are many generations, good families and friends that come through here and patronize us,” said co-owner Dave Jollie. “Anyone from blue collar workers to doctors and lawyers. They just love this place.”

Jollie’s has hugged the side of Northeast Union Road, east of Interstate 5, since its opening in 1963. In the decades since, the rooftop sign has signaled drivers into a diner with wagon-wheel chandeliers and framed pictures of Native Americans.

Bill Jollie bought the building when it was only a tavern after getting laid off from Lucky Lager brewery. He said he saw potential in northern Clark County along the freeway.

“I knew there’d be something out here some day,” he told The Columbian in May 2007. According to the story, he was able to add a kitchen in 1971, a restaurant in 1979 and a lounge in 1981. After his death three years ago, Jollie’s Restaurant and Lounge was left in the hands of his wife and four children. Three of the children work there.

After growing up in the restaurant, Cheri Jollie-Schmeling said the sale was difficult.

“It’s like going through another death is what it’s like,” she said. “You try to use your head and weigh the pros and cons. There’s always a lot of other reasons why these decisions are made. You try to use your smarts instead of your heart.”

Development of the area had been looming over Jollie’s future, Dave Jollie said. A road project in 2006 turned its section of Union Road into a dead end, cinching off drivers who sought to bypass Interstate 5.

Now that talks are underway to overhaul the nearby Northeast 179th Street interchange, he said the decision to sell was a chance for them to control their own destiny.

“We got a pretty fair offer on the land and, to be honest, once they start on the interchange like they’re talking about, I don’t think we’re going to get a lot of traffic anyway,” he said. “I guess we’re going out on our terms.”

Dave Jollie declined to disclose the sale price.

Representatives with Killian Pacific declined to say what they plan to do with the building and land. The firm owns most of the nearby properties, though the Clark County government put a hold on development of those properties until the interchange is rebuilt.