PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A Portsmouth landmark is shutting down - another victim of tougheconomic times. The Circle Restaurant will serve up its last mealsNew Year's Eve.
The eatery has been a fixture on High Street for more than 60years. The Circle got its start as a drive-in in 1947. That sameyear, one of its regular customers, Cherie Arrington, was born. Sheand the Circle go way back to her childhood and teenage years.
Arrington tells WAVY.com after her senior prom in 1965, she andfriends stopped at The Circle for dinner. She fondly remembers TheCircle, "It's always been nice to have and it's always been fun forme to come in here to listen to the piano and just reminisce.
Arrington and others enjoy southern staples from the lunchbuffet, including collard greens, candied yams, hush puppies.
Another customer, Jacquelyn Clark says it's good eating. "Thefood's fine and it's the only place I know I can have rutabagas. Ilove rutabagas."
But amid rising food costs the economic downturn the pastseveral months, customers dining at The Circle has declined.
Co-Owner Rick Mathews said, "We have a lot of senior citizens.We operate a buffet. When sales go down and your senior citizenscan't come out as much and your general diners, you suffer."
He says business is down 25 to 30 percent.
"We made a decision to close it. We've talked to several peopleabout coming in to lease it, which we'll be in more seriousconversations with them after the first of the year," Mathewscontinued.
Waitress Sandy Lupton, a 28 year employee is one of about twodozen workers losing their jobs. She says over the years many ofthe customers have become friends.
"I've got telephone numbers of a lot of people before we close.I'll call them. I'll keep in touch," said Lupton.
The Circle's closing is seen as the end of an era. The Circlewill open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on New Year's Eve, thenclose for good at 9 p.m.
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