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Cafe closure creates big void in NewberryPosted Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 11:12 AM
For a couple of weeks there's been a void in the small town of Newberry.
The town's last viable retail establishment - other than the bank - has ceased business operations.
The Newberry Cafe, a popular breakfast and noontime-eating destination for local residents and area farmers, closed its doors earlier this month.
It wasn't because of bad economic times.
Owners Lanny and Lois Pickett decided it was time to get in some rest and relaxation and finally retire.
The couple has been operating the dinner from 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. six days a week for more than six years during a time when both had already retired from previous jobs.
It was time for a well-deserved rest.
The Picketts have operated a great little diner that featured some of the best biscuits and gravy for breakfast and one of the greatest breaded tenderloin sandwiches that I've ever wrapped my lips around.
I and others are sad about the closing, but we understand and feel the Picketts deserve a break and some time to enjoy their retirement.
Lanny, always out-spoken and full of humor, has been very involved in a lot of what has gone on in the Newberry community for many years.
He formerly served on the Newberry Town Council and for several years he was chairman of the yearly Newberry Festival Committee.
This past Independence Day, the Picketts purchased and placed several dozen small American flags on both sides of State Road 57 (Main Street) in Newberry to call patriotic attention to the nation's birthday.
Since 2007, the Newberry Cafe has been a friendly Thursday morning gathering place for a group of military veterans who have enjoyed hours of fellowship. The "old vets" gathered to crack jokes and exchange good-humored jabs about their respective branches of military service.
For years every Thursday morning was Veteran's Day at the Newberry Cafe.
The cafe owners welcomed the vets to the cafe and they placed circular insignias on the wall from the five major branches of the military service - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard - as their way to show appreciation for the service of the veterans.
This weekly gathering was good for them and also a reminder to the cafe owners about the freedoms and liberties each fought to preserve.
"I'd do this even if they didn't eat here," Pickett proudly told me just before last Veteran's Day. "They deserve this and more."
One of the veterans who frequented the cafe in recent years, the Rev. Murray Thompson, pastor of the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, says the vets are now meeting at the Greene County General Hospital cafeteria on Thursday mornings, but he'll miss the Newberry Cafe.
"The Newberry Cafe served as a magnet for veterans of all the service branches for a number of years who once served their country proudly in virtually every U.S. armed conflict from World War II through Operation Iraqi Freedom. They faithfully gathered week after week at the Newberry Cafe until its recent closure due to the retirement of its gracious owners, who always stood ready to serve our area veterans a tasty early morning breakfast every Thursday. The Picketts clearly understood that those veterans who frequented the Newberry Cafe represented both men and women who had proudly served both in the enlisted and officer ranks on land, air, and sea in the name of freedom," Thompson commented.
Thompson noted that at least five of those veterans were, and still are, members of the clergy.
"These are all men who proudly wore the uniform at one time or another over the course of the past 60 years or so. And as they also gathered for an early morning breakfast along with their fellow veterans, it was always fascinating to see how they seamlessly blended in with the often emotion laden conversation going on around the tables at the Newberry Cafe," Thompson related. "It is with grateful hearts that I, along with my fellow veterans say, thank you to Lanny and Lois Pickett for the ongoing memories that you both gave to each of us who were privileged to be a part of the Newberry experience. Through the eyes of this former Army chaplain it is clear that those who gathered at the Newberry Cafe while they still have time, largely gathered knowing that they are yet being nourished, both physically and spiritually by those of us who understand that that in the final analysis, we all come from God and ultimately go home to God as we live out all our days in faith, hope, and love. The Newberry Cafe was a vital part of our journey together where we could always find sanctuary each Thursday morning around the tables of friendship we shared at the good 'ol Newberry Cafe".
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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