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The Coach Stop in Middleburg closes after 78 years

Co-owner Mark Tate chats with customers on the last day of business at The Coach Stop restaurant in Middleburg. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Raymond Thompson

“We’re here for the last supper,” a patron lamented as he set foot for the last time in the Middleburg restaurant The Coach Stop.
The Coach Stop, which has been a fixture in the small town for 78 years, served its final meal Sunday, Jan. 3, as lifelong patrons filled booths and counter seats.
Despite the sadness, laughter rang out as nostalgia filled the air.
Middleburg resident Kathi Ribaudo first visited The Coach Stop in the 1970s. Over the years, she has felt at home in the restaurant. It was her place to read the newspaper in the morning, sit at the counter, have her breakfast and learn about the comings and goings of neighbors and friends.
“Hey Mike, do we cry now or later?” Sherri Morison, asked half-jokingly to the restaurant’s co-owner, Mike Tate.
Morison’s husband, Nat, and his brother, George Morison, grew up dining at The Coach Stop. On Sunday, the family sat in a curved booth near the window and George Morison recalled many meals and pranks—including setting off a smoke bomb in a nearby booth. The Coach Stop, he said, was a “community institution for all those decades.”
In 1932, brothers Nick and Louis Dimos opened the restaurant under the name New York Cafe. Louis bought out his brother. In 1958, Louis Dimos’ wife, Vickie, decided she wanted to take the cafe in a more upscale direction, so they remodeled and renamed it. Now known as the The Coach Stop, the restaurant changed hands a few more times before Brian and Loretta Jillson took over in 1972.
Five years later, at age 14, Mike Tate started working at the restaurant. In 1979, his brother Mark, then 15, joined him. After 10 years of serving during summer breaks and on the weekends, the brothers purchased The Coach Stop in 1988 because it became their dream, Mike said.
The brothers announced in December 2009 that they were closing the restaurant after 22 years. During the past few years, they attempted unsuccessfully to sell the restaurant. Several deals fell through for one reason or another, Mike said. Mark denied the closure had anything to do with the current recession, but said they are simply tired after working six days a week for years. Their patrons are sad, but they understand, he said.
Middleburg resident Hurst Groves planned his daughter’s wedding over multiple meals at the restaurant. When he came in the door late at night, the servers would put on his favorite mixed CD of romantic music for him to enjoy as he ate his grilled salmon.
He couldn’t answer where he would go next to enjoy his late-night meals. No one could. That’s because, they all said, no one has quite the same friendly, casual atmosphere as The Coach Stop.
“We’ll miss it tremendously,” said Middleburg resident Barbara Sharp.

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