SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A popular Springfield restaurant closed its doors for good Sunday afternoon.
Perkins Restaurant & Bakery on W. Sunshine is now closed permanently.
Staff said they learned they were losing their jobs on Friday. Trish Wilkins has served and trained at Perkins for 13 years.
"I love this place, I love all the people in the building," she said.
For Wilkins, Perkins is as close to "home" as it gets, and that's why she's sad to see it close.
"I loved all our guests, and you all know who you are. It's a real shame," she said.
Staff posted signs on the restaurant doors Sunday, thanking Springfield for 25 years of business and apologizing for not being able to say goodbye to some of their regulars.
It read, "From our family to yours, may the best of your yesterdays be the worst of your tomorrows."
Archie Donoho, the restaurant's general manager, said the Springfield store opened in 1994, and is now closing over a rental dispute. Donoho said the newest owner, Huddle House, wanted cheaper rent but the landlord wouldn't budge.
He said he doesn't understand the reason behind the closure.
"We’ve been up in sales for five years straight. We’re making more profit than last year, but we can’t afford the rent," he said.
Donoho, who has worked at the restaurant for nearly five years, said Sunday was a sad day.
"There's been a lot of crying because we're like family around here. A lot of us have been here forever," he said.
Donoho said the "Perkins family" doesn't just include staff, but frequent flyers like Larry Smith. Smith lives about an hour from the store, in Cassville, Mo.
"We drove up here just to have the last meal," he said.
Smith and his family visit Perkins every time they're in Springfield for doctors' visits. They came to Springfield Sunday just to say goodbye.
"I've never seen such a caring staff to customers as this place has," Smith said. "More than sad. It's got to be devastating to some of these people."
Wilkins said she's going to miss seeing familiar faces like the Smith's. She said she knows she can find another job, but to her, there's no place like Perkins.
"I've been privy to people's births, deaths, weddings. It's like a live Facebook in here almost. It's real life," Wilkins said. "I don't know, we've got a good group of people here. It's going to be really hard not to come here anymore.".
Donoho said he plans to buy another restaurant in Springfield and hire the full Perkins staff there.
KY3 News received this statement from the corporate company.
"As a result of the Perkins bankruptcy proceeding, yesterday we took the difficult step to close several Perkins Restaurant & Bakery units. There were 11 closures in six states. These were all restaurants whose sales decline over the years and high operating costs made it untenable to remain open.
'We are so grateful for the dedicated service of our Perkins team members in these restaurants. Some of the team members have been with Perkins for a very long time and we truly appreciate their years of service at Perkins as their employer of choice,' commented Jim Frank, COO of Perkins. 'We are also very grateful to these communities we’ve served and appreciate our customers’ continued loyalty.'
As a result of new ownership post-bankruptcy, Perkins intends to continue to grow and develop in select markets and maintain the valued community connections for which they are known."
The statement went on to read most management received severance, while team members are being "redeployed" to others Perkins locations where possible.