A central staple of Tappahannock’s nightlife is saying goodbye to the town and finding a new home.
Ferebee’s closed its doors Saturday, Nov. 24, and is moving to the Common’s Park Circle shopping district in King William County.
The longtime bar and restaurant has been serving food and drink to Tappahannock’s residents and visitors for approximately twenty years. But a decline in business prompted Ferebee’s owner Frank Wilson to search for a new location.
The restaurant, located less than one block from the Tappahannock Police Department, was the subject of an Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) hearing which Wilson won six months ago. Although all charges were dropped, Wilson’s attorney Joseph Caprio believed that the damage had been done.
“Word of the ABC complaint got around and people outside of Tappahannock were not coming in anymore,” Caprio said. “It seems to me that Wilson got tired of the attitude towards his business, and his tax agent informed him that she thought he’d do better somewhere else.”
In addition to the troubles with ABC, Ferebee’s has weathered a stagnant economy and the emergence of a business rival in The Captain’s Grill, a sports bar which opened as part of Lowery’s last year.
Public speculation also cited the Tappahannock Police Department as being “anti-Ferebee’s” as well as the primary reason that Wilson decided to shift his business out of town.
Tappahannock’s Chief of Police James Ashworth argued that this was not the case, noting that he heard the rumor that the police department was responsible for Ferebee’s closing.
“I asked my captain about it and he said he had no idea,” Ashworth said of the rumor. “There’s been nothing actively going on…and we don’t target their business more than any other business.”
“I heard several months ago that Ferebee’s was moving and it was not related to intervention or police action at all,” Ashworth stated. “The only way I look at Ferebee’s leaving is that it will be a loss of revenue for Tappahannock and I’m sorry to see it closed.”
According to Caprio, Wilson made the move to close shop when he was faced with a lease from building owner Nathan Page Ball, which would have “locked him in for another ten years.”
“Wilson is in the business to make money and he’s losing,” Caprio said, adding he enjoyed going to Ferebee’s for lunch whenever he was in town.
Although Wilson was unable to provide detailed comment on the official reasons for Ferebee’s departure, he expressed his gratitude for his time and experience overseeing the restaurant in Tappahannock.
“It’s been ten awesome years,” Wilson said, “I loved the people there.”