Photo by Roger Gavan
The Dautaj Restaurant closed on Sunday, Jan. 29.
WARWICK — The handwritten sign on the door of the popular Dautaj Restaurant at 36 Oakland Avenue in Warwick reads: “The Dautaj is closed. Soon to be opened under new management.”
Patrons, entertainers and those who follow Facebook posts had only recently learned the restaurant would close on Sunday, Jan. 29.
All upcoming engagements and events, including the Feb. 10 Hudson Valley Jazz Ensemble show and the upcoming celebration of Mardi Gras in support of the Backpack Snack Attack program, were suddenly canceled.
“We had a mutual understanding,” said building co-owner Arben “Alberto” Dautaj, who had leased the operation of the restaurant to Bekim Karacica and Agim Jashamica. “I will need about a month to do some face lifting, change the menu and reopen it as The Warwick Inn.”
The historic building, first established as an elegant Victorian mansion with 10½-foot ceilings, was built in 1855 as a residential estate.
The restaurant was converted to an inn in the early 1900’s and in the 1960’s the Wilson family took control and opened The Warwick Inn.
In April 2006 Dautaj, who also owned and managed Arta Restaurant in Ringwood, N.J., and Momento in West Milford, N.J., leased the building and opened The Dautaj at the Warwick Inn.
And shortly afterward he established a sub-lease arrangement with Karacica and Jashamica who renamed the restaurant The Dautaj.
They were joined at that time by bartender Ray Townley, who had spent many years in the music business and was in charge of arranging the line-up of performers and bands throughout the year.
In January 2012, Alberto Dautaj and his wife, Arta, purchased the building from John and Jacquelyn Wilson.
Future plans for Karacica and Jashamica as well as Townley have not been disclosed at this time.
“There are a lot of rumors going around,” said Townley, “but we’ll be able to tell you more soon.”