Obici House restaurant closes

Published 10:59 pm Friday, May 18, 2012

The Obici House has closed its restaurant and now is operating just as a special-events venue, lessee Ronnie Rountree said Friday.

Rountree, who also leases the Sleepy Hole Golf Course where the house sits, said the special events and restaurant were sometimes interfering with one another and he did not want any patrons to be disappointed.

“We just decided for the benefit of the people that have the event, and the people that really want to come for a quiet evening of dinner, it wasn’t fair to both parties,” he said.

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Rountree said the decision was spurred a couple months ago on a Saturday night, when a birthday party that had rented only one room spilled into the whole house. He said he apologized to the people who were dining in the restaurant, who were gracious about it.

But, he added, he would have been upset if he were the one trying to have a quiet dinner.

“If it wouldn’t work for me, I don’t want you to have to put up with it,” he said.

A few days later, he made the decision to put the restaurant business aside for a while.

He said he has a wedding every weekend from now until November — except this weekend, which was originally booked until the nuptials were called off.

“We’ve just got so many events right this minute, we thought we’d try to do that for a minute and see where it goes from there,” he said.

He added that the restaurant still will hold the occasional, themed, family-style dinners that have become popular.

“We’ve had steak night, Italian night, seafood night, country dinner night,” Rountree said. “That’s worked pretty good.”

He also left the door open for the restaurant to re-open at some point.

City spokeswoman Debbie George said the change in operation does not violate the lease Rountree has with the city.

Once the elaborate home of Suffolk benefactor and Planters Peanuts founder Amedeo Obici and his wife Louise, the home fell into disrepair. Many feared it would be demolished until Rountree agreed, in January 2010, to include the house in his plans for the golf course’s development.

The restoration of the home took more than a year and a half. The restaurant opened in November 2011, around the same time the home began hosting special events.