Bonnie's Tremont Cafe closes after 58 years

By Audrey Wise

December 31, 2013 Updated Dec 31, 2013 at 8:26 PM CDT

TREMONT, Ill -- The bacon will no longer sizzle at Bonnie's Tremont Café in downtown Tremont. The coffee that customers have come to crave will not brew Wednesday morning. Owner Bonnie Cooper announced just Saturday that she would close on New Year's Eve.

"I'm tired, and legs hurt. It's just time," said Cooper.

She opened the business with her mother in 1954. Cooper said through the ups and downs of the economy, her business has remained steady with many regular customers.

"We're gonna miss Bonnie's," said one of many regulars there to wish her well on the final day.

Waitress Kay Sykes said, "We can pretty much tell what anybody wants before they even get across the street their breakfast is usually on the grill."

Regular Bill Hopkins said, "My wife and I come out about every morning for breakfast kinda gets us started for the day. It's kind of a tradition that we're going to miss."

Customers aren't shy about how good the cooking is.

"Best breakfast in the tri-county area," said one man.

She must do something special to the coffee, because customers rave about that too.

"They got some of the best coffee around," said another man.

While customers rave about the food, it's the atmosphere they really enjoy.

"Well that's why I come, I enjoy visiting with my friends so much and I know just about everybody that comes in here," said Warren Howard.

Doug Tucker said, "We get all the town news right here. We don't have a town newspaper in Tremont, this is our newspaper right here."

Even on her last day she hasn't lost her server's spirit. But that spirit is fading and after almost 60 years, Bonnie is ready to lock up.

I'm probably going to be wondering around on Thursday morning trying to figure out what to do, but we'll adjust," said Hopkins.

Come 2014, it will be a new day in Tremont. When the town staple closes it will be a great loss to the community. But Bonnie's customers agree she deserves a relaxing retirement.

The storefront will likely sit empty for awhile as she figures out what to do with the building.

Tremont residents do have several other restaurant options in town.

Still, former Tremont village board member Bob Beecham said it will be an economic loss to the town.

"Whenever you lose a tax base like a restaurant or anything in a small community it effects you negatively. We don't have a lot of businesses in town and so every business you lose makes a big difference in the revenues you collect," he said.

Bonnie's customers say the other restaurants will likely see an influx of new people.