The 356th Fighter Group is closing its doors Saturday night at the end of business.
The World War II themed restaurant on the runways of the Akron Canton Airport has been a staple in this area since 1989 when it was owned by the Specialty Restaurant Corp. In 1990, Bob and Tina Scofield purchased the restaurant.
Bob Scofield, owner, said it has been a bittersweet week for him and his restaurant "family."
Since 1989, he has been at the 356th Fighter Group restaurant greeting patrons, washing dishes, cooking on the line in the kitchen, and doing whatever else needed done.
He's melancholy about closing the doors for the last time Saturday.
"It's sad," he said through teary eyes. "There have been a lot of big events here. This place is like one of my kids."
Many of his employees shared his feelings.
Patty Lahmers, the lunch chef for a little over four years, said, "I'm gonna miss this place. I am going to miss Bob. It has been one of the best places I've worked, and he is great. When things would get too busy in (the kitchen) during lunchtime, he just jumped right in and worked with me. We called ourselves the 100s because when you put our ages together, we equal 100. Now it is 101."
Barbara Riff, a hostess at the restaurant, has been with the restaurant eight years.
"I've met the most fabulous people here; wonderful customers. It is sad, but when one door closes, another opens. It has been a joy to work here."
The office manager for the past 20 years, Josette Condello, said, "I have mixed emotions right now. It has been a very long run. We are like a family here."
Closing the restaurant wasn't something the Scofields considered until last week when the pipes froze in the subzero temperatures. Shortly after that, a fire alarm went off around 2 a.m. Scofield arrived to find a water pipe from his sprinkler system had burst and flooded his dining room.
Being out in the open the way it is, the 356th Fighter Group often has power outages, the last of which caused him to have to cancel 450 reservations on Dec. 21.
The Scofields decided it was time for them to move on. The restaurant and building will be up for sale. He has been helping his 47 employees find employment elsewhere.
"I've been able to place a lot of them already," he said. "I have a fantastic staff."
CARDS, PARTIES, BANQUETS
For those who have gift cards, Scofield said he is hoping to see you at the restaurant on Saturday or before. However, he is working with several restaurants in the area for card holders to use their gift cards there. He will announce those locations later.
Page 2 of 2 - As for parties and banquets already booked, Scofield said he has arranged with LaPizzaria restaurant, Glenmoor Country Club and Prime 93 restaurant to accept the events.
Reach Denise at 330-580-8321 or on Twitter: @dsauttersREP