For 35 years Charles Smith of East Bend has been dining at this quaint restaurant, and he hates to see it go.
“I hate it. It’s a good place to meet your friends and people you don’t see every day,” he said, adding the food hasn’t been shabby either. “Oh it’s great. It’s always good. I like everything. You can see that. Everything’s good. Hot dogs, hamburgers, you name it, and the steam table, too, with vegetables.”
Richard Huff of East Bend, of Huff Funeral Home, was there for the sad occasion with his wife. His favorite order?
“A foot-long hot dog, no B.O.,” he replied with a smile. “No B.O. No butter on the bread and no onions. They know what it is.”
What is it like with the eatery closing?
“It’s sad,” he said. “Maybe I can lose weight.”
His wife, Chris, was sitting in a booth with him. She liked the hot dogs “all the way.”
“It’s depressing,” she said of her mood. “It’s been here a long time. He comes about every day. It’s a sad day.”
A BLT and chicken fillet sandwich were the favorite items of Courtney resident Barry Norman, who sat with the Huffs.
“I like the plate lunches they have at lunch time,” he said, adding he likes the owner a lot. “She’s my buddy. I used to come over here years ago, and she’d fix me breakfast at three o’clock in the morning. If she was frying bacon in the morning, she’d let you in the door, anytime from 3 a.m. to eight o’clock at night. Then the Sheriff’s Department, they’d roll in about 4 and hang out a little while.”
Norman does not know where he will go to eat now, but he said it will be in the southern part of the county.
“It’s awful. I love this place,” said the owner, Marie Crutchley, 78, choking back tears. It was in the early 50s when the restaurant opened.
“I’ve been here 34 years,” she said. “I just own the business, not the building. The biggest thing is Parkinson’s disease and then the economy and high prices. It was a lot of things, but mostly my health.”
Closing the business is one thing, but not seeing her customers that over the years have become close friends is entirely another.
She will miss them.
“Oh what do you think,” she asked. “Look at that board over there where they’ve signed it.” The sign was accompanied by many flower arrangements. Meat sizzled on the grill as waitresses were crying.
“I had three men come from Thurmond above Elkin who came by to see me. They are in their 70s,” she said. She has had wedding receptions and showers held at the restaurant.
“I’m going to cry,” she said. The restaurant was to close at 8 p.m. What will she do now?
“I’ll probably lay down and die,” she replied.
Ann Crutchley, a daughter-in-law, Mickey Williamson, and her son Chris, posed with the owner for a photo under the menu sign.
Williamson said she has been coming to the diner for 15 years, and she likes the hot dogs.
“It’s breaking my heart. Can’t you tell?” she said, crying.
She doesn’t know what she will do now after the closure.
Grandson A.G. Crutchley said, “I worked here for five years, and I just left in December. I hate it. I grew up here. She’s been here since 1976, and I was born in 1977. I spent many years in this place.”
His favorite food was the big hamburger and the hamburger steak with slaw and fries.