After more than a dozen years, a diner in downtown Meriden is closing its doors.
Cassidy's, located on West Main Street, officially shut its doors after 13 years on Monday, but its owner is spending a final few days saying goodbye to his regulars.
During lunch shift, Jay Dempsey was busy behind the counter working at Cassidy's.
"You could be the best cook in the world," one customer shouted.
A few regulars such as Joe Carabetta were cozying up to the counter on Friday and talking about the old times. He told Eyewitness News that the coffee was always hot and the conversation was easy.
That's why his closest customers were still stopping by on Friday.
"I come here every day for breakfast, but hopefully he'll do all right," Carabetta said.
Dempsey told Eyewitness News he already took out his gas grill.
However, the coffee was still on and he was using a griddle to whip up a few pancakes for those he considers family.
Back in 2008, during an already sluggish economy, a car crashed into Cassidy's. Dempsey said it took him two years to restore it and reopen, but after that it was never the same.
"I was out of business for two years," Dempsey said. "The insurance company gave me $56,000 to put it together. It cost me $168,000 to put it together and I had to take a mortgage on top of my mortgage and that was the beginning of the end."
While he fought it as best he could, Dempsey said the debt quickly mounted. He's now in foreclosure and owes $215,000 on his mortgage.
"One day I'll do $300, the next day I'll do $31," he said. "You can't make it when your bills are like that."
Dempsey said the economy and the crash didn't help, but his location did him no favors either.
While the courthouse is just down the street, he said there are not enough businesses, foot traffic, and people living nearby to keep the diner afloat.
"Downtown Meriden is dead, graveyard, ghost town USA," Dempsey said.
Dempsey said he will be around for a couple more weeks, packing up and cleaning. He told Eyewitness News he's going to head to Maine and work for a friend growing and dispensing medical marijuana.
He said he hopes to save up enough money to come back in 2 1/2 years and open up another diner, maybe in Waterbury.
But saying goodbye now isn't easy, as the tears come quickly.
"Yeah, it's a little tough. Actually, a lot tough," Dempsey said.
But, he's hoping it's not the end.
"Thank you very much for 13 years and I'll see ya - open up a place somewhere," one customer told Dempsey.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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