Octoraro Hotel and Tavern Day
By Steven Hoffman
Friday, May 4 was officially designated as Octoraro Hotel and Tavern Day in the Commonwealth by the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives.
During the First Friday festivities that evening, the vertical sign on the side of the building was officially lit up once again, much to the delight of a large crowd that gathered outside what has become one of Oxford’s most popular spots.
State Rep. John Lawrence, who was instrumental in getting the State House to pass House Resolution No. 897 of 2018, which honored the Octoraro Hotel and Tavern, was on hand to present owner John McGlothlin with an oversized copy of the resolution, which noted that the tavern dates back to 1827 and has always been in the center of Oxford's business district.
McGlothlin humbly thanked the Oxford community for its support. He and a partner became owners of the Octoraro Hotel and Tavern in August of 2013, and the tavern quickly became very popular—and a cornerstone of Oxford Borough’s revitalization efforts. Then, on Nov. 4, 2014, a kitchen fire gutted the building. The community rallied to support the business. An extensive restoration and renovation got underway as soon as possible after the fire, but the Octoraro Hotel and Tavern didn’t reopen until March of 2017.
To say that the business was missed during its absence would be an understatement.
At the sign-lighting, McGlothlin said that “the OTE” as it is affectionately known, is a place where people of all different backgrounds and cultures can come together to enjoy food, drink, and each other’s company.
“It’s like one big family,” McGlothlin said. He added that he and his family feel very blessed for all the support that the Oxford community has shown over the last five years.
Now that the vertical sign outside the tavern is lit, everyone will know why the business is nicknamed “The OTE.” At some point in the 1960s or 1970s, the “H” and the “L” in “HOTEL” mysteriously disappeared and the sign read “OTE” for a long time. The new sign also reads “OTE” as a nod to the tavern’s history.
“I think it’s great to see the sign back,” said Brian Wenzka, the executive director of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. “This is one of the oldest buildings in the downtown so it’s kind of iconic to Oxford.”
Wenzka noted that while the building has had a number of owners through the years, it has always been a hotel or tavern of some sort, and remains an important link to Oxford’s history.