143 New Britain Avenue
Plainville, CT 06062
Closed Mondays. Tuesday & Wednesday open at 4pm. We are available by phone 2 hours prior to our opening time. If on a phone click MORE for our hours. We do not take reservations, all seating is first-come first-served.
We love being the custodians of this historic building and we take that responsibility seriously. The building has seen so much over the years; people making wonderful memories, meeting their spouse, holding special events, a Thanksgiving fire, a direct tornado hit, and generations of families and friends enjoying great food and drink and good cheer.
The building was erected in 1789, the same year George Washington was inaugurated as president. Originally it contained 3 rooms; a bedchamber, winter kitchen, and dining room. A ballroom was later added.
The tavern was well equipped; it had a loom-room, cobbler’s bench, carpenter’s shop, corn-shelling machine and full kitchen (all cooking was done in the fireplace and stone oven). Years later a descendant turned the downstairs kitchen into a complete blacksmith shop, which is still intact and is known as The Forge Dining room. This picturesque room is a favorite for our guests. The original bellows and anvil are still in place.
In 1795, John Cooke purchased the house and land from Luther Shepard for 36 pounds. Though records are imprecise, it is assumed John Cooke was the proprietor of the tavern before purchasing it outright. Upon opening Cooke’s Tavern he wrote in his diary that he wanted to “purvey food for man and beast (horses!).” As time went on business flourished and Cooke’s Tavern became a well-known stagecoach stop for travelers along the College Highway. It was the center of social life in central Connecticut.
The tavern was passed down through generations of the Cooke family. George Cooke, John’s son, eventually took over and lived in the building for 93 years! During the Great War the tavern served meals to the workers at the nearby ball bearing factories. George Cooke died in 1923 and passed the tavern to his niece, Mrs. Nancy Kirkham. In 1934 a great-great-grandson of John Cooke turned the tavern into a full-service restaurant. Although it was closed briefly in the 1950s due to a small Thanksgiving-eve fire, it has been a restaurant ever since. Descendants of original owner John Cooke operated Cooke’s Tavern from its beginning until the current owners purchased the building in 1979. The restaurant name was changed from Cooke’s Tavern to J. Timothy’s Taverne in 1988.
J. Timothy’s is proud to carry on the tavern tradition begun in this building over 230 years ago.
Today the building has 6 public dining areas including a pub/bar and the pub loft (upstairs) and can seat about 380 people. There are 4 private rooms – one has a private bar – for special events, with seating ranging from 12-50 guests. Information about the private rooms is here. The building has 6 fireplaces that provide a warm glow during fall and winter (5 of them original to the building, all gas operated now).
Click on any picture below to make it larger and to start a slide show.