BELLEVILLE — A long-standing metro-east diner suddenly closed after 48 years.
Hy-Ho Cafe in Belleville was shuttered last week after having served blue-plate specials for almost half a century. Owner Debbie Scobbie would not say why she closed the diner.
"It just is what it is," Scobbie said.
The Belleville restaurant at 20 South Belt West was initially built as Calavito's Italian-American Restaurant in 1953 before nearby Illinois 15 was constructed. That's when the eatery became a truck stop for truckers who came rolling through town. A few years later, it became Compton's Cafe.
In 1965, Belleville Police officers Mike Mercurio and Fred Bohannon bought the business and renamed it the Hy-Ho. Scobbie bought out Mercurio's partner about 31 years ago and has been the sole owner for the past 12 years.
Last Spring, Scobbie reduced her hours to 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, after having been open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and for 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.
Scobbie, who leased the property, said she is not sure what will happen to the building that had housed the eatery.
The property is owned by S&A Realty Co. and Flash Realty Co. with offices listed in downtown St. Louis, according to records from the St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds. Neither could be reached for comment.
In 2009, Scobbie told the News-Democrat that the restaurant had endeared itself to generations of diners by offering a good meal for a fair price. She said the Hy-Ho was a family, something restaurant chains can not offer.
On Tuesday, Scobbie said she will miss the people she served and those she worked with.
"I had some wonderful customers and wonderful employees," she said. "We gave it our all."
Readers who commented online said they would miss the restaurant. One reader, who identified himself as "Wizpopr," said: "I used to make three or four trips a year, mostly after being out until the wee hours of the morning. Always had the best breakfasts."
"The greatest landmark restaurant in this area is no more," said another online commenter. "I have (eaten) there all my life and never had a bad meal. In addition, Mrs. Scobbie always hired the less fortunate to work for her. A lot of people can say what they want, but she had the best service in town ... period."
Another reader identified as "spock," said: "I have (eaten) there a few times as well. The food was good, the people nice, and the price was right. We will miss you Hy-Ho!"
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.