Dave Reardon, owner of Shillings on the Square in Marietta, dies at 75

Longtime Shillings owner David Reardon. AJC archive photo/Joe McTyre



Longtime Shillings owner David Reardon. AJC archive photo/Joe McTyre

When Dave Reardon went out to eat with his wife, Carol, and their friends, you’d never find him sitting for long.

“He would stand at the bar and literally eat standing up,” said longtime friend Mary Ansley Southerland. “He would walk around and speak to everyone. He could work a room like magic.”

It didn’t matter that Reardon played host at his own restaurant, Shillings on the Square, which closed in late 2019 after 41 years and is now home to Mac’s Chophouse.

“Everywhere he went, he was a host extraordinaire,” Southerland said. “He was so friendly and one of the kindest people. ”

Reardon, 75, died March 6 of natural causes at his home. He is survived by Carol, his sister, Sheila McNamara, four nieces and five nephews. A celebration of life is planned.

After more than 40 years, Shillings on the Square has closed. New owners plan a chophouse concept after a renovation and kitchen overhaul. Photo: Jennifer Brett

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A Massachusetts native, Reardon opened Shillings in 1978 after years working as a manager with the Crowley’s restaurant group in metro Atlanta. Housed in an old hardware store, Shillings quickly became a part of the heartbeat of downtown Marietta, a neighborhood restaurant that, for many patrons, served as an extension of their own families.

Shillings became a part of the fabric of the Marietta Square due, in large part,to Reardon’s personality and entrepreneurial skills, said Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, a longtime friend who also worked with him on the Downtown Marietta Development Authority.

“He chose to bring his show to the Marietta Square,” Tumlin said. “He hit a home run, and so did our community. He was always there for you, and he had a lot of character.”

Gov. Brian Kemp, who stopped into Shillings numerous times during his run for governor, had fond memories of his time at the restaurant and with Reardon.

“Dave was a pillar of the Marietta community and always served his community and customers well,” Kemp said in a prepared statement. “Marty, the girls, and I join his wife Carol, his family, and friends in mourning the loss of a great father, husband, and Georgian.”

The restaurant presented Reardon with the opportunity to open his heart — and sometimes his wallet — to those less fortunate than him.

“There’s no telling how many $20 bills he rolled out of his pocket for people who were hungry or in need,” Southerland said. Reardon spent many Thanksgivings at Shillings, inviting elderly residents from area nursing homes in for a holiday feast.

He also employed people who were down on their luck and needed a hand. He relished mentoring younger people.

“He taught me a lot about how to run a business,” said his niece, Tara Reardon, who worked at the business many years. “I’m a manager now at a company, and all the skills he taught me as a young person really carried over..”

As serious as Reardon was about running his business and helping others, it was his playful side that endeared him to the community. He loved a good party and made lifelong friends with customers, many of whom would visit the restaurant multiple times a week for meals and celebrate milestones in the event space upstairs.

“He was the life of the party,“ Tara Reardon said. “You hear that a lot, but he gave it a new meaning.”

Reardon’s love of Shillings and Marietta was only surpassed by his love for his family, particularly Carol, his wife of 35 years.

“She was the love of his life,” Tara Reardon said. “They were together 24/7. You didn’t ever see Dave without Carol. He swore he was going to be a lifelong bachelor until he met her.”

The pair did not have children, but they served as parental figures to nieces and nephews, as well as Shillings employees and the children of family friends.

“He loved us like we were his own,” Tara Reardon said. “People say to me a lot when they meet me, ‘Reardon, Reardon...Where do I know that name from?’ And I say, ‘You probably know my Uncle Dave.’”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Jennifer Brett contributed to this report.

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