Ads for Oliver’s restaurant promised its patrons they were in for
“A Dickens of a Good Time.” The popular downtown restaurant
 opened in 1991 and closed in 2001.


HUNTINGTON — Dan Shoemaker credited a trip to London as the inspiration for the name
 and theme of Oliver’s, the downtown Huntington restaurant he and his partners opened in 1991.

“My wife and I went to London and fell in love with everything there,” he recalled.
 “And I’ve always been a big Charles Dickens fan, so it just all came together.”

The ground floor of the parking garage at 4th Avenue and 10th Street
previously had housed a furniture store and, before that, a five-and-
dime. An extensive renovation transformed it into a modernized
 version of an old English pub. Ads promised the restaurant’s
patrons they were in for “A Dickens of a Good Time.”

The idea, Shoemaker said in a 1992 interview with The Herald-Dispatch,
was to create an attractive place where customers could grab a
 quick lunch, a few after-work drinks or a nice dinner. Not
long after it opened, Oliver’s was the highest-grossing
restaurant in the Huntington area.

Renee Maass, then the director of Huntington Main Street, praised
Shoemaker and his partners — all of them local — for taking
“a building that had been virtually empty for 10 years” and
turning into a focal point in the downtown.

After a few years, Shoemaker sold out to his partners.
 The restaurant closed in 2001.

While Shoemaker enjoyed his time at Oliver’s, his first love was
sports. As a teacher and coach at the former Huntington
East High School, he guided the Highlanders to
 three state baseball championships.

A Wayne County native and 1972 graduate of Marshall University,
 he left coaching and teaching to enter sports broadcasting. He
 was inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasters Hall of
Fame in 1994. In 2007, he was named vice president
of collegiate development at ESPN in Charlotte.

The 67-year-old Shoemaker died in 2018.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Apr. 13, 2021.


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