On Tuesday afternoon, I suggested to a friend that we meet up at The Elite Cafe for happy hour as I remembered they had good deals last time I was in there.
Little did I know the restaurant was in its last days.
News broke Thursday morning that The Elite was closed. I arrived on site a little before noon to find a media scrum, or at least as much of a media scrum as I've ever seen at a closed restaurant in Waco. My friends from the Waco Tribune-Herald, reporters Mike Copeland and J.B. Smith and photographer Rod Aydelotte, were there along with at least one TV crew.
In the window we found a posted press release that spelled out the end of the restaurant. It included a prepared quote from owner Creed Ford. It read, in part: "Unfortunately, due to economic reasons, we have made the tough decision to close our doors and sell the property."
The release ended by stating Ford's intention to sell the property and Elite brand rights.
I started to write that this was the end of a Waco institution. But as the Elite is a Waco landmark, it seems likely that someone will attempt to resurrect the historical restaurant. It's already had multiple owners in its 97-year history.
However, the apparently declining business and abrupt closing won't be good signs for prospective buyers. The word around the media huddle this morning was that restaurant staff members showed up today to be surprised that they wouldn't be opening.
My take is that with everything new that's happening in Waco these days, I'm not sure a reincarnation of the Elite Cafe or even another restaurant trying to claim this space is going to take hold. That's just my gut reaction. I hope I'm wrong.
What do you think?