TAMPICO – The gas company shut off service to R&B Dutch Diner about 11 a.m. Thursday. That was the last straw for owner Butch McNinch.
Shortly after, he permanently closed the Tampico eatery. Paying the bills has been a struggle, he said.
“We can’t run without hot water and heat,” he said.
He announced his decision on Facebook.
“R&B’s Dutch Diner is now officially closed,” he wrote. “For those of you who have spoke of this day since the day we opened, your dreams have come true. I would like to thank all of our family members, who stopped at least once a week to patronize our business.”
In an interview, he said business had fallen gradually since July.
“It’s been a tough battle,” McNinch said. “Last year, it looked like we were making some headway, then things dropped off.”
In recent times, the restaurant stopped serving breakfast and ended its hours on Sundays.
“It just wasn’t paying to be open,” he said. “You can’t cover the costs of having a waitress.”
McNinch has seen hard times in business. He worked at companies such as Reliant Fastener and Rock River Provision before they closed.
“I thought if I were on my own, I’d be all right,” said McNinch, a Tampico resident. “The Midwest always gets hit last with the recession, and we’re the last ones to recover.”
In 2009, he and his wife, Rita, reopened the Dutch Diner, renaming it the R&B Dutch Diner. They bought it from Beverly Adamson of Tampico; it had been closed a year.
The McNinches made $60,000 worth of improvements to the restaurant, McNinch said.
Stan and Alta Headings built the Dutch Diner in 1981. It was named, in large part, for Tampico-born Ronald Reagan, whose nickname was Dutch.
On Thursday, customers expressed their disappointment with the diner’s closure.
“I feel really awful about this,” Dixon resident Dana Fellows posted on Facebook. “I wished we lived closer so that we could have come in more. I don’t understand why there wasn’t more support for the diner.”