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Old Tyme function hall replaces Little River Inn

Old Tyme Italian Cuisine owner Bob Stilian stands in front of the former Little River Inn which he has converted into Rusty's function hall. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — After 33 years of serving up breakfast, the former Little River Inn space on Boston Street has a new function.

Robert Stilian, Lynn Parking Director and 12-year owner of Old Tyme Italian Cuisine, is the new property owner of 618 Boston St. and he’s excited to make it into an expanded function hall. Rusty’s, named in honor of his late mother Dorothy Stilian and her signature “rusty” red hair, will be a quaint venue spot that will allow Stilian to enlarge the one he currently has inside Old Tyme.

“This is all bittersweet,” Stilian said while fighting back tears. “I’m sad to see Little River Inn go but I’m happy to know this spot is staying put and it’s still going to be around.”

Stilian grew up in West Lynn, he said, so he knows firsthand that the Boston Street corner is vital to the neighborhood. This week, his ownership of the property will be finalized when former Little River Inn owner, and longtime friend, Rick Ford passes him the papers, he said. 

The former favorite breakfast spot closed in April for a variety of reasons, according to an Item article. The work became too much for Ford and his wife, Tina, and they wanted more time to spend with their family, especially their grandchildren.

“There’s a lot of heart and soul here,” Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee said at Rusty’s ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday. “It’s great to see this continue to be a place where people can come and gather. It’s continuing the tradition from Rick Ford that’s been here for decades.”

It was eight years ago on Friday that Stilian’s mother died, he said. In the upstairs room of the new venue, there hangs a painting of “The Last Supper” that was created by his mother. She painted it freehand and blind in one eye, after an illness she caught from swimming in Lynn’s Flax Pond as a kid, he said.

“It was the hardest day of my life when she passed,” said Stilian. “She was a remarkable woman.”

Next up on Stilian’s expansion wish list is to redo the lounge over at Old Tyme and name it Sparky’s, he said. The lounge will be in honor of his late father, a longtime electrician, who died one year after Dorothy Stilian.

“I’m excited to see this whole place thrive,” he said.

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