Historic diner closed for good

It’s closing time for good for the one and only restaurant in Tampico, Illinois.

The gas was shut off Thursday at R&B’s Dutch Diner and the town’s not losing just any restaurant, but also a piece of history.

Since 2009, Butch McNinch has tried to keep the tables full at the diner.

“We always had a good January/February, which most people don’t,” said McNinch. “People were always here and then in July it just died. It’s just hard keeping up.”

The sign on the door says it all- “Closed. Thanks for your patronage.”

“I don’t really want to blame a lot of people,” he said. “I think, if you’ve got something people want to have and you do it, they’ll come to it.”

One very notable person who did come here was President Ronald Reagan- back in 1992. 

“He sat there for Mother’s Day, the year after he was out of office and had the turkey dinner and double-crusted raisin pie.”

It wasn’t just about the food at the diner, but it was also about the fellowship.

Butch says some customers would come in at 8 a.m., sit down with a hot cup of coffee and not leave until 10:30. It just goes to show how much impact a place like this can really have on the community.

The town revolves around his legacy and the restaurant, which bears his nickname of “Dutch,” fed people’s appetite for all things “Gipper.”

“It was a lot more expensive than what they expected and they tried so hard and when they got it open I was so happy for them because we just had people coming from all over and it was just a busy, busy place,” said Shirley Lester, with the Tampico Area Historical Society.

 It was the town’s only restaurant, there to feed not just swarms of tourists in the summer but regulars, year-round.

Now, it’s closed its doors once again.

“My wife, she says it’s like having a baby, you’ve got to be here all the time.”

This is not the first time the diner’s been closed.

Since it was built in 1981, it’s changed owners a few times.

The historical society says it’s not sure what can be done at this point to get it reopened.

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