Blue Wil­low Inn owner Van Dyke dies

The Covington News - - Front page - By Tharon Gid­dens

Louis Van Dyke, the restau­ra­teur and busi­ness­man re­spon­si­ble for So­cial Cir­cle’s Blue Wil­low Inn and Blue Wil­low Vil­lage, has died.

Van Dyke died at his home on Wed­nes­day. He was 63.

“It’s a very tragic loss for our com­mu­nity,” So­cial Cir­cle Mayor Jim Burgess said Fri­day. “He had cre­ated a res­tau­rant that was known through­out the world.”

The Sa­van­nah-area na­tive and his wife, Bil­lie, opened the Blue Wil­low in 1991. The el­e­gant 107-year-old man­sion turned res­tau­rant at 294 N. Chero­kee Road is a com­mu­nity land­mark that at­tracts tour bus loads of vis­i­tors to So­cial Cir­cle.

It is known for its up­scale South­ern cui­sine and earned mul­ti­ple awards from South­ern Liv­ing mag­a­zine. The late colum­nist Lewis Griz­zard also was a fan.

The Blue Wil­low Vil­lage, a clus­ter of shops be­hind the Blue Wil­low that in­cludes a 1950s-style diner, Lou’s Soda Foun­tain & Grille, opened in 2008. The res­tau­rant, grille and gift shop em­ploy more than 100, ac­cord­ing to Patsy Joiner, ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant.

Be­fore open­ing the Blue Wil­low in 1991, Van Dyke had op­er­ated a smaller res­tau­rant in So­cial Cir­cle and restau­rants in Cov­ing­ton and Mon­roe.

The inn and vil­lage rep­re­sent prom­i­nent in­vest­ments in the com­mu­nity.

“He was will­ing to make that kind of in­vest­ment when many oth­ers were re­luc­tant to in­vest,” Burgess said.

“He meant very much to the econ­omy of the com­mu­nity.”

Burgess de­scribed Van Dyke as fear­less, and a su­perb risk-taker.

“We just hope we can con­tinue his legacy,” he said.

The res­tau­rant will main­tain reg­u­lar busi­ness hours, ex­cept be­ing closed Mon­day evening for ser­vices.

LOUIS VAN DYKE

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