SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A diner that has become a landmark in the city of Springfield will be closing its doors after 45 years of business.
Anton’s Coffee Shop will be serving customers for the last time on March 1.
Well, Anton Tasich passed away at the age of 88 last month after a battle with lung cancer.
Not long after his re-diagnosis last summer, employees tell me that he wasn’t going to renew their lease once it expires in March but he passed before they closed the doors here for good.
Regulars and their longtime manager explained their special connection to the store.
Since it opened in 1974, Anton’s Coffee Shop has been a go-to spot for comfort food in Springfield.
But just as it is set to complete its 45th year of business, Anton’s will close one week from Sunday, and people are coming to pay their last respects to a place that has fed people for decades.
Some have been coming here since the beginning.
Finding a new place for coffee and conversation won’t be the same for folks like Tom and Sheila Selvidge.
“We had a lunch date with Anton for the last 10 years on Wednesdays. We would meet here with him every Wednesday, at this table right here,” long time customer Tom Selvidge said.
They have lived just around the corner from the coffee shop for 53 years, and four generations of their family have dined at that same table to listen to stories from Anton.
“Her mom brought us here, we brought our kids here, our grandkids,” Selvidge said. “I’m sure we’ll be here next Wednesday, and I don’t know how many more times besides that.”
One person that will be here every day until close, is Manager Debbie Willoughby.
“I’m here, my daughter works here, my son worked here,” manager of Anton’s Coffee Shop Debbie Willoughby said. “My granddaughter and my grandsons come in here and eat.”
Debbie has worked here since she was 16 years old.
“They had a sign in the door and it’s history from there. I came in and talked to Anton and thought he’s not gonna hire some young kid, but he thought he’d give me a shot, and he was dad to me, and Roberta was Mom,” Debbie said.
Now they have a sign on the door once again, but it signifies the end of an era, rather than the beginning of one.
Anton’s widow, Roberta, still owns the building here but not the land it sits on.
Their lease for the land here expires on March 1, which is the last day they’ll be open.
They’re closed on Tuesdays, but there’s still time to come and have one last cup of coffee here, a place that leaves a near half-century legacy behind.