143 New Britain Avenue
Plainville, CT 06062
The building is erected as a large house and tavern. This is the same year that George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.
John Cooke purchases the building and land for 36 pounds. 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.
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.
A fledgling local cable TV network based in Bristol, CT – The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network – holds its first press conference here, announcing itself to the world. Only two local reporters attend. ESPN is born and then broadcasts its first event on September 7, 1979. Fun fact: The first event covered by ESPN was a Slo-Pitch Softball World Series game between the Milwaukee Schlitzes and the Kentucky Bourbons.
Tim (John Timothy) Adams and Jim Welch purchase the restaurant/building, which has been Cooke’s Tavern since 1795. Descendants of original owner John Cooke operated Cooke’s from its beginning until this point. The building had deteriorated and fallen into disarray and needed a lot of work before it could be operational again.
The restaurant opens on February 26, 1980, still named Cooke’s Tavern. The first night’s sales are dismal. The restaurant is formal; white linen tablecloths, servers in bow ties, and a menu that is a bit highbrow. Our Kitchen Manager is John Huwe, who previously worked with Tim and Jim in Pennsylvania. John worked with us since Day 1 until his passing in 2017.
The worst recession since the Great Depression hits. Times are lean and the partners struggle to keep the restaurant open. Some nights see only a handful of guests. At this point the restaurant has about 10 employees with the owners working hundreds of hours per week to persevere. But they carry on, with smiles.
The name is changed. As time went on Tim, Jim, and then-Kitchen Manager John realized they wanted a more casual, welcoming environment. The decision was made: retire the name Cooke’s Tavern and establish a new identity. J. Timothy’s Taverne – a combination of the two owners’ names – was born in 1988. The hallmark of the new J. Timothy’s was great pub food and beverages with professional, but friendly service; perfect for families and friends in a more causal environment. No more white linen tablecloths and bow ties.
A bucket of wings and Rolling Rock ponies is introduced as Bucket of Wings & Beers Wednesday. On a good Wednesday maybe 10-15 buckets were sold. Today, we average about 80 buckets every day.
Dirt Wings are created! Not purposely, it was an accident, a wonderful accident!
Dirt wings were created by one of our guests, Barry, who was on our softball team. After the games he would come in with the rest of the team and order wings. He was nicknamed “Dirt” because he was the oldest one on the team, i.e. “old as dirt”. Ha. Barry was very sociable; he would talk and talk and tell great stories. His wings would sit while he finished his stories. By the time he was done talking the wings would be cold. He said to our Chef, “Just add some more sauce and re-fry them.” What? Ok, we’ll give it a try. Everyone realized they tasted really, really good when double fried and double sauced, making the wings crispier and caramelized. Voila! The “Dirt” Wing was born. Thanks Barry!
Dirt Wings are added permanently to the menu. Previously they had only been available to those who knew about them, they were not offered as choice. They proved to be so popular we reluctantly added them to the menu. Why reluctantly? Well, they were costly to make. Double the sauce, double the time to make them, and double the oil for frying since putting wings with sauce on them into the fryers deteriorates the oil quickly. Fresh oil is key to crispy and well-cooked wings! For more about wings, click here.
We now have 100 employees and have expanded seating. With 3 private rooms for private events, the restaurant can seat over 400 people.
The restaurant is inducted into the Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame.
A small tornado hits the building, knocking down our chimney and two of our 250 year old trees. Luckily no one is injured. We turned portions of the trees into large carvings inside the restaurant.
We are awarded Casual Restaurant of the Year at the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Annual Excellence Awards.
Thrillist, The Daily Meal, and Buzzfeed all name our Dirt Wings as top wings in the country. The Daily Meal said we were Number 2 in the country (top spot is Duff’s in Buffalo)!
We serve over 10 tons – 20,000 pounds – of wings for Super Bowl Weekend.
The Food Network names our wings “Top 5 Bar Foods” in the country. They called us in late 2015 to say they wanted to feature our wings. We thought it was a joke, a prank. We didn’t believe them! Not until they sent a contract did we think it was real. They arrived with a huge crew to film (for over 10 hours!) in October 2015. We were sworn to secrecy and had to hold that secret until the show aired in February of 2016. What an honor! You can watch the 4-minute segment here.
We sell over 12 tons – 24,000 pounds – of wings for Super Bowl Weekend and are fully booked in advance by Thursday of that week.
Sadly, our partner John Huwe passes. For 37 years, John imbued J. Timothy’s with love, kindness, and…jokes. Everyone remembers his jokes! John shared a special warmth and bond with both our staff and guests. He is profoundly missed every day.
Erica Richardson, a server/bartender here since 2008, wins Server of The Year the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Annual Excellence Awards.
The Travel Channel visits to feature our Dirt Wings and Chicken Pot Pie for a show featuring the “country’s choicest chicken dishes.”
Our 40th Anniversary Year! We are humbled, a bit surprised, and grateful we’ve been in business for 40 years. We close the restaurant 40 years to the day since we opened – February 26, 2020 – to have a celebration party. The party benefits the newly established, annual John Hume Memorial Scholarship at Plainville High School. Over 400 people attend the party and the Governor declares it “J. Timothy’s Taverne Day” in the state of Connecticut.
A few weeks after our 40th Anniversary celebration, a pandemic hits the world. We have to temporarily close. Upon re-opening, we are gratified by the hundreds of supporters who welcome us back. It was a challenging and difficult year – for everyone – but here we are…
…41 years later and we’re still serving guests and creating memories. Thank you for your continued support!
Our Story as We Celebrate 40 Video!