The aroma of fresh garlic knots and pizza greets customers as they enter Mother Kelly’s restaurant. Photos of celebrities, including Cindy Crawford and John Quinones of ABC’s “What Would You Do?” as well as Mark Gastineau’s Jets jersey, line the walls, along with family photos taken through the years.
But soon the photos will be taken down. After 45 years of serving patrons at its Cedarhurst location, on Chestnut Avenue opposite the train station, the Gobetz family will close it down on Aug. 31. Originally, the restaurant was to close at the end of September, but the building's landlord is seeking to get the new tenant — a Kosher eatery — in the space sooner, according to co-owner Glenn Gobetz. Mother's Kelly in Syossett remains open.
In 1969, Marvin Gobetz and his wife, Dorothy, took over the restaurant, which was originally located on Columbia Avenue. Its previous owners named it Mother Kelly’s, and Dorothy decided to retain the name. Marvin died in 1984.
Jack McHugh, chief of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department, said he would miss Mother Kelly’s. “It’s sad to see a Cedarhurst establishment and family business leave town,” he said. “Everything they make is equally good. There isn’t one specific thing I like more than another. I like everything.”
Jack and Dorothy’s sons, Mark, 57, and Glenn, 56, remember being in eighth grade when they began helping out at the restaurant. “We’re looking at this as a happy occasion,” Mark said. “Some would say that we’re closing, but I look at it as relocating. We’re looking at new opportunities.”
Some possible locations the family is considering for another Mother Kelly’s are Long Beach, Island Park and Boca Raton, Fla. The brothers said that many of their regular customers through the years have also left the Five Towns. “Since we opened, over the years the local community has become an Orthodox town,” Glenn said. “Our father was Jewish, but our mother isn’t. We would have to keep kosher to run this restaurant.”