Missing Millie's: Longtime Delavan restaurant closes doors
DELAVAN In nearly 150 comments on a Facebook post announcing that Millie's Restaurant and Shopping Village has closed, fans talk about the memories they made there during weddings, high school jobs and, most of all, around the table at breakfast.
"My entire family will miss Millie's—it was our special breakfast place as a child and continued to be our special spot with our children,” one wrote.
"Mothers day will NEVER be the same!” another said.
Millie's closed Jan. 1 for its usual break during the slower winter months with the intention of returning in March under new ownership, owner William Slater said.
When that buyer backed out "at the last minute,” Slater said the 48-year-old restaurant and gift shop on County O was forced to close for good Tuesday.
He said closing Millie's, which also hosted weddings and banquets on its 7-acre property, breaks his heart. Along with the memories customers had of breakfast there, Slater said more than 60 people employed at the restaurant and gift shop are losing their jobs.
"We've had generations of families work here throughout the years,” Slater said. "It just affects the entire community.”
Slater's family has owned Millie's since 1980, when his mother took the restaurant over from its namesake. The family will now have to sell off just about everything on the property, Slater said, except for a handful of independently owned businesses.
He said the difficult economic climate forced him to look for a buyer, then close the restaurant when that fell through last week.
"The tourism industry has taken a huge whack,” Slater said. "The first thing that happens when the economy goes south is people stop going out to eat and stop traveling, and the last thing they do when the economy looks better is to start doing those things again.”
Other businesses in the shopping village have said they plan to stay open despite the loss of Millie's, including needlework store The Stitchery and antique shop Everything Homespun.
Jerry Dean, who owns Everything Homespun, said customers have been telling him how sad they were to hear Millie's has closed.
"There's a lot of disappointment,” Dean said. "(Millie's) has been around here for a long time.”
Dean also said he is concerned that losing the restaurant, which helped draw people to nearby shops, could hurt his business.
As for the property, Slater said it would probably be auctioned off along with the gift shop's inventory and equipment from the restaurant. He said he would try to keep fans updated on what happens with the property through the Millie's Restaurant and Shopping Village Facebook page.