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Michael 's will serve last meal Saturday

The paneling on the walls, the water-stained ceiling and the sign by the cash register that says "no debit or credit" speak of the time gone by.

The customers speak of a place that has been a second home for 45 years.

After Saturday, Michael's restaurant on East Hill Street will be that home no more. Kelly and Ann Ware, who took over the restaurant after Ann's father, Michael Mogish, died in 1986, are retiring -- sort of.

Kelly says he will continue to work at something.

"I really don't have a hobby," he said. "This and fooling with cars are what I've been doing all my life."

Ann says, with emphasis, that she's retiring. She'll relax and enjoy her four grandchildren.

Michael's is a family restaurant, in more than one sense. Founded by Michael Mogish and his wife, Evelyn, in 1966, it's a place where generations have come to dine, where employees have worked for 25 and 30 years, and where a loyal cadre of customers comes for breakfast and lunch daily.

Michael's was the first place Rex Marsh remembers eating a meal that didn't come from a baby food jar.

"During summer, we'd eat three meals a day here," he recalled. "It's always been great food, great country cooking."

He's not sure where he'll go for breakfast and lunch after Saturday. But it will be "almost like living in a different place."

He fondly remembers the restaurant's spaghetti nights years ago.

"If you weren't here by 6:30, you were standing in line," he recalls.

The spaghetti remains his favorite dish, but the spaghetti nights ended when the restaurant began serving only breakfast and lunch several years ago. Nowadays, he says, the pancakes are the best thing on the menu.

He even cleaned tables at the restaurant from the time he was 10 years old until he was 16.

Warren Newsome is another regular.

"I've probably been eating here for 25 years," Newsome said Friday over lunch. "I open them up every morning."

He's the owner of Thomson Packing Co. and says Michael's has also been one of his best customers.

"I'm going to miss the waitresses," he said. "Over the past 25 years, I've about got 'em trained."

"The employees are what make it," Kelly said.

"We have wonderful employees," his wife said.

Although she's looking forward to retirement, "I'm going to miss the people, the customers," she said.

"We have a lot of generations of families that have eaten here."

Web posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011

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