Iconic Downtown Locations Closing



Kathy Clayton

The Ashland Beacon


   They say that change is inevitable, and the only constant in our chaotic world. Change is exciting and bittersweet as is the case in downtown Ashland this week when two beloved businesses close their doors.

   Crawford Hairdressers at 208 16th Street and the Jockey Club Restaurant on 17th Street are closing their doors. 

   Once the go-to salon in Ashland, Crawford’s, owned by Crawford Shockey, has been in business since 1983. The attractive storefront has been known over the years for its cutting-edge (no pun intended) window décor, especially at Halloween.

   Mention the name Crawford and most Ashland residents know exactly who you’re talking about – like Cher or Slash, no last name is needed. I wen to school with Crawford, and in recent years, have renewed the friendship.

   The Jockey Club Restaurant opened in back section of Corbie Stull’s Department Store a few years ago. Its signature red door around the corner from the store’s main entrance on Winchester, always made me think of a 1920s speakeasy, with a secret back entrance, long before Sal’s opened on Carter.

   Like they say on the Cheers TV show theme song, “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” The Jockey Club is that place for several people, groups of friends who gather on Friday evening to eat and socialize. Friday is the only night the restaurant is open. They do a thriving lunch business during the day, frequented by workers and shoppers downtown.

   Somehow, these two businesses are linked in my mind by a series of events that started a few years ago, when I was talking with a friend about reaching out and forming some new connections. I made a post on Facebook, that we wanted to make new friends, and if anyone was interested, we’d meet at Giovanni’s. I think it was a Thursday.

   The first outing there were three of us. But the group grew, and we decided we needed a permanent day and place to meet. It was around that time that the Jockey Club opened and we settled on that. The ambience suited us, and we have come to love the place.

   Crawford was a regular patron and many of our group knew him, so he began to join us. Our group has had different people who show up from time to time, but the core group has been myself, Amy Miller, Debbie Diamond, Tamme Grubb, Cathy Galloway, Dinusha Kumarasinghe and Crawford. We have laughed and cried together, celebrated and mourned. It seems hard to imagine that we have not always been friends, although we grew from such a random beginning.

   The Friday night crowd at the Jockey Club consists of several regulars besides us, and you may occasionally see people you know – mayors, city commission members, local business owners. Even if you don’t know some of these people, it seems that everyone fits seamlessly into the vibe of friendship that permeates the eclectically decorated dining room. Corbie and his amazing staff have been very good to us.

   As I walked through the red doors for the last time Friday, the first people I saw were Corbie and Crawford, in conversation at the bar; I joined them and we talked about how it seemed like the end of an era downtown, and their anticipation for the future. They are good people.

   Corbie’s store will remain open for a couple of days a week as he slows down and to pursue less intensive activities. Crawford will still be “doing hair,” as Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, at Studio 21.

   The rest of us Jockey Club regulars will be looking for a new place to gather on Friday nights. We don’t expect to recreate our wonderful experiences at the Jockey Club. Big shoes to fill.