CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One of the big tasks Wednesday afternoon at a West Ashley restaurant that closes its doors for the last time Sunday night was to remove more than $6,000 from the ceiling.
Parson Jack’s Cafe, which features a pet-friendly patio, is closing on Sunday night after more than 12 years in business. Over the course of that time, the restaurant’s customers have dined under a ceiling decorated with a growing collection of cash, mostly in the form of dollar bills.
The tradition began shortly after the restaurant opened when owner Steve Morgan said the blank ceiling looked like an office building and they decided to start pinning dollar bills to it. The idea from the beginning was that they would one day take the money down and donate it to pet-friendly charities.
“Along the way, we started matching everything that was up there every year,” he said. “Along the way we started matching everything that was up there every year. So if there was $500 put up there in a year, we’d count it, subtract what was there the year before, and then give that out to various charities.”
It took volunteers from the Charleston Animal Society and PetHelpers about four hours on Wednesday to take down all of that money, he said.
The restaurant’s Facebook page posted a video of the money being removed.
A Facebook post states the cash total, not counting pieces of foreign currency, was $6,094. Owner and general Manager Steve Morgan says that money will be split and donated to the Charleston Animal Society and PetHelpers.
“Every dollar bill that was on the ceiling represents somebody that came in here and had a memory here," he said. People would sign the bills with their names, their spouce’s name or even pet names. Some had “rest in peace” messages, he said. Others celebrated weddings or anniversaries. “It’s sad at one point, but you know, that we touched someone’s life enough that they wanted to do that and that gave them some ownership while they were here, that’s pretty cool.”
The restaurant announced on Tuesday that it was closing for good this weekend. It was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but posted to its Facebook page that it would shut down with a four-day celebration:
- Thursday: Last Open Mic Night
- Friday: Last Live Music night
- Saturday: All food Half-off all day
- Sunday: Last Brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Thank You Party 2 p.m.-8 p.m.
Morgan said on Tuesday the decision to close was purely financial with rising rent and rising labor costs he said forces wages to reach “unsustainable levels.” The result, he said, is that small “Mom and Pop” restaurants like Parson Jack’s Cafe get pushed out of business.
But his message to his customers is one of appreciation.
“Everybody that has come through for the last 12-and-a-half years, I really appreciate and consider friends,” he said. “So for the next four days, I really look forward to seeing everybody. Lots of hugs, lots of love, and I really appreciate everything everyone’s done for me.”
The check presentations to Charleston Animal Society and PetHelpers is scheduled for Sunday night’s party, he said.