ROANOKE, Va. – After an 81-year run, The Roanoker Restaurant plans to shut its doors soon.
It’s a devastation for the owner and the Roanoke community.
“We will not be able to find a replacement for this restaurant,” Don Sowder said.
“It’s a shame that it’s closing,” Dina Hutchinson said.
Just one day after the owner announced the closing of this beloved restaurant, a crowd of devastated customers lined outside the door to show their support.
Customers say nothing will beat the homestyle Southern cooking the cozy restaurant would serve up.
“I think the biscuits are a staple,” Hutchinson said.
“I come here for the country ham and the red-eye gravy,” Sowder said.
“Oh, and their gravy is tremendous,” Judy Kaufman said.
For the past 20 years, Sharon Wilkerson has enjoyed feasts at the restaurant and said “you can’t find good home cooking like this.”
Kind staff added to the comfort and made customers feel like they were family. It’s a culture Butch Craft said was started by the original owner Crafton Warren and wanted to keep as a tradition.
Craft said it was difficult to tell the 48 workers goodbye.
“A few tears,” she said. “I have tried to be transparent and say we have this person interested or a broker interested, and I think that gave them false hope.”
She said after negotiations kept being delayed, she had to pull the plug and hopes a buyer will come.
Craft said between inflation of food costs, labor costs and a labor shortage, the coronavirus pandemic was the last hit.
“Going through that was so much trauma,” she said. “My team worked long hours and pushed to get through and it was tough to get through it.”
After managing the restaurant for more than 50 years, Craft is grateful for every customer.
“We love them all and we hate we had to do this.”
Kaufman said after eating at the restaurant for a decade she hopes someone can save the community from experiencing a loss.
“It’s the older people that had been coming here for years,” she said. “And they are not going to have this as a home place.”
The restaurant will shut down either at the end of May or early June.