Patrons help keep Listons Bar & Grill going in Worthington

  • Listons Bar & Grill co-owner and head cook Diane Magargal pours a cold beer for a thirsty customer Saturday in Worthington. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • A clear winter Saturday beckons regulars and locals to Listons Bar & Grill, a Worthington mainstay since its founding during the end of the Prohibition era in the 1930s. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Listons Bar & Grill owner Steven Magargal, standing, talks to a customer during a busy Saturday afternoon in Worthington. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2021 2:40:00 PM

WORTHINGTON — Listons Bar & Grill on Old North Road has been part of the fabric of Worthington since 1933. However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are threatening the establishment’s very survival.

“Until now we’ve never been in trouble,” said Steve Magargal, who owns Listons with his wife, Diane. “We’ve never been where we are.”

Listons has cut its staff down to Steve, Diane and a waitress, with friends pitching in to help as well.

“We’ve cut everything we can cut,” Magargal said. “We’re not taking a paycheck.”

The struggling business has received community support via a GoFundMe online fundraiser started by Jay Nomakeo, who once hosted a golf radio show alongside Magargal on WEEI, though Magargal initially resisted the idea.

“He was dead set against it at the beginning,” Nomakeo said.

However, Magargal eventually agreed, and the crowdfunding campaign at was launched in November. Since then, nearly $10,000 has been raised.

“Without that, we’d be closed,” Magargal said.

He said most of the money raised so far went to paying off back bills, although the bar still owes more than $1,000 on its DIRECTV bill.

Nomakeo said the Magargals have been generous with others in the past.

“He’s the first person to jump on board to help somebody,” Nomakeo said of Margargal. “He’s always raising money — he’s always helping people.”

As an example, he noted how Magargal helped raise $60,000 with him for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield as part of their radio program. Nomakeo said a golf tournament is being planned to help out Listons as well, with the goal of raising an additional $10,000.

The Magargals bought Listons in 2000 after being approached by its previous owner, Dave Cowles. At the time, the Magargals were living in Pittsfield but were interested in relocating to Worthington, where Steve grew up.

Capacity restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic have taken their toll on the business, which can currently only be at 40% capacity, Magargal said. The hope is that through business and more donations to the GoFundMe account, the establishment can persevere until full capacity is permitted again.

Currently Listons opens at 11 a.m. with the kitchen closing at 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The business is open Thursdays as well, though only for dinner.

Asked what he’s liked the most about owning Listons, Magargal cited the live music that’s been played there, which includes performances by the late Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers, who lived in Huntington. He said Neville liked Listons because it reminded him of some small places he had played in New Orleans.

Very often Neville, who Magargal said played at Listons 20 to 25 times, wouldn’t take any money. Hearing him play was a special experience, Magargal said.

“The sound of that saxophone,” he said. “Whatever it is, he had it.”

Nomakeo said Worthington losing Listons would be “devastating” and he described it as the town’s “community center.” “You want to know what’s going on in Worthington, you go there,” he said.

And while Nomakeo lives in Holyoke, he said he still manages to go to Listons 10 times a year.

“You can’t not go into Listons,” Nomakeo said. “It’s out of the way but you have to stop there.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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