Tillman family thanked for decades of operating Village Inn

Posted 7 January 2022 at 8:04 am


I am writing this letter to put out my thanks and the thanks of my family to the wonderful Tillman family and their legacy in Orleans County: The Village Inn!

It is a sad start for the year of 2022 that one of the county’s most treasured businesses had to close but we have been blessed to have this family keep their doors open for the many years that they have been here!

My parents, Bob and Margaret Golden, don’t hold back any emotion in helping us remember that one of their first memories of Orleans County, near the year of their marriage in 1959, was that of stopping in the area at the Village Inn for dinner.

Since then, me, their oldest son, had his first job given to him by Bill and Lynn Tillman as a dishwasher/busboy. The work was hard and it taught me a lot about responsibility and dedication. I remember the disappointment in not being able to make it to an all-county concert because I was scheduled to work and couldn’t find a replacement in time.

But Bill made it clear to me and made sure I got the message that my job was priority. Bill and Lynn were such generous employers, as well. We would get “free cokes” to drink while on the clock. The brightest “light at the end of the tunnel” on each shift was clearly lit by the promise of a “free dinner” when finished, however.

The cooks hired were always fantastic! Ellie, Maxine and Debbie were there at the time and I would always look forward to those meals, even when I wasn’t working! (I remember getting extremely upset with my parents showing up for dinner while I was working and thus taking up a “night” where I might not be able to go there in the future.)

They had the best fish fries on Friday and the fried chicken dinner or the gravy-smothered hamburger steak dinners were always my favorites. My sister-in-law started as a waitress there and joined a classic line of waitresses who were always courteous and efficient!

As a patron, I was always amazed and noted that it was never duplicated in any restaurant I ever went to how big the salads were and how fresh. Finishing up the night as a dishwasher, I would get the meal break and then have to go back to scrub the pots and pans before getting off work many times no earlier than 2 a.m. But, I was able to keep entertained by the loud jukebox playing songs I will always remember as life has gone on.

The Village Inn, at that time, in the late ’70s, was also the gathering spot for 18 year olds and up in the social realm. I saw a lot of my good friends there, while bringing the washed glasses back to the bar for Tom or Mark to serve up again to customers.

And then, when I was scheduled to work on an early Sunday morning to get the place ready for Sunday, my co-worker and I would be able to turn the jukebox back on and listen for free to the songs that had to be turned off the night before at closing…

When Tom and Mark took over, nothing lacked despite the tough shoes they had to follow in from their parents and grandparents. I was chairman of the United Way in my older years and when I would call on the Tillman brothers for a donation, they never disappointed. They knew how important they were to the community and how the community was important to them.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work! The banquet room was always the best place I could think of for any large gatherings or small weddings in the area; the dining room the best for entertaining people from out of town!

Thank you, Mark and Tom, and your families, for all you have sacrificed to keep your family’s legacy alive all these years! We have been truly blessed to have the Village Inn in our great county of Orleans for as long as it has been!

I will have a tough time finding a better prime rib than at your establishment! I might never see that opportunity as it will be hard to beat! God bless the Tillmans and the Village Inn!

Gerry Golden