By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Ninety-nine-years-ago, when Joe Garavelli opened his first cafeteria restaurant on DeBaliviere, there was no Facebook. But social media is the way the current owners announced Garavelli's will close for good on June 28.
"It's going to break everybody's heart so we won't talk about it," said Muna Hawatmeh.
Sam and Muna Hawatmeh bought Garavelli's Cafeteria at 6600 Chippewa 23 years ago, serving great food to good people.
"Senior citizens are 80 percent of my clients," said Sam Hawatmeh.
Or, as a senior customer quipped, "You won't see any laptops in here."
Seniors on fixed incomes have a hard time paying more for food at a time when the cost of everything is going up.
"Rising food costs, rising electric bills, utilities, taxes," said Sam Hawatmeh. The numbers don't add up any more, so the owners are selling the building and closing the restaurant at the end of June.
"We're going to miss it," said Muna Hawatmeh. "Going to miss our lovely customers. It's been a wonderful ride for us and good while it lasted. I'm sorry to see us go but we couldn't do it no more."
Sam Hawatmeh and his wife say they are the third owners of Garavelli's after buying it in 1990. Joe Garavelli opened the first of six restaurants in 1914 on DeBaliviere Avenue.
Attorney Doug O'Neill has been a regular customer at Garavelli's for more than 25 years. To prove it, he started naming employees.
"That's Rita. I know some of the other ones there. Connie, and I know Sam and Muna. You get to know them if you come here day after day. It's almost like Cheers on TV. You know what I mean? You know all the people that eat here and work here," he said.
But nothing stays the same, nothing lasts forever.
"It's going to be heartbreaking, for sure," said Sam Hawatmeh, "for me, my wife, my employees."
For the owners of Garavelli's, the sign taped to the door that says "Closing" is a sign of the times.