EDITOR’S NOTE:This is the 286th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — Born in Union Town, Pennsylvania, in 1922, John G. Martin literally grew up in the restaurant business. He learned the food business from his father, Gus Martin, who was a chef for 40 years in some of the nation’s leading hotels, including the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh and New York’s International Club.
In Huntington, Gus Martin operated Martin’s Grill, a Southside restaurant at 816 10th St. Known to family and friends as Johnny, Martin later took over the business when his father died.
In 1957, he realized a long-held dream when he opened a new, modern restaurant all his own, Martin’s Restaurant. His wife, Georgia, worked alongside him at the popular eatery, located at 627 4th Ave. in the same building as television station WHTN (later WOWK).
The new restaurant featured a coffee shop and semi-private dining room, each seating approximately 50 patrons, and what was said to be the first all-electric commercial kitchen in the city.
When show business stars and other celebrities came to town, their visits often resulted in a framed photo and autograph added to the growing collection that decorated the restaurant.
In 1975, Martin sold the restaurant to new owners. According to records in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, it closed in 1976.
A Marshall University graduate, he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army during World War II, was the long-time food services manager at Rebels and Redcoats restaurant and was the last surviving founding member of Huntington’s St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
In 2002, he and his wife moved to Frisco, Texas, where he died in 2006.
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