Hackney's customers savor one last memory in Lake Zurich
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The parking lot at Hackney's in Lake Zurich was filled Sunday at noon, and people were practically waiting out the door to get a table.
They had rushed to the restaurant for one last chance to renew fond memories, as well as add a few more for the road.
Among them were Steve and Meg Salzman of Grayslake, who have been eating at Hackney's locations throughout their 43 years of marriage.
In fact, one of their first dates was on St. Patrick's Day at Hackney's in Glenview.
Meg said that even when they lived in Michigan, her husband would freeze the onion rings and bring them to his advertising clients.
"We're just here because of old times," Steve Salzman said. "It's the end of something we feel close to. And we wish it wouldn't happen, but life goes on."
Inside, Audra Powers was showing customers to their tables, while nearby her father, owner Ed Masterson, was handling patrons' payments, just like on any other busy day for the 48-year-old restaurant.
But it was bittersweet for them, too.
"People have memories here, and it's just so wonderful to hear the stories," Powers said.
Powers had a few stories of her own. She remembers working there "since I was born," doing everything from waiting tables to cutting the grass out back. She spoke about playing in the game room and taking naps in the booths.
"It's sad but it is also time for my parents to retire and enjoy life," she said.
Powers said the past five days had seen waiting lists for tables.
"People are willing to wait, because they want to be here. They want to have their last memory here."
Masterson called the response "overwhelming." He, too, said the closing left him "sad and happy."
"We have been very fortunate with the employees," he said. "We have had great employees over the years, and that is the most heartwarming thing for me. Also a lot of these people that came in and expressed their affection for Hackney's, that was very heartwarming also."
The crowd included former employees like Mundelein resident Karryn Boland, who worked there while a student at Lake Zurich High School, and Wheeling resident Larry Messinger, whose mother was the head waitress for 25 years. He started working for the restaurant when he was 16.
"Hackney's was very good to their employees," Messinger said.
Outside, in the back area accessible through the patio, Pamela and Rob Wortman watched their grandson, nearly 2-year-old Jake Jungwirth, playing with a broken branch by the pond.
"We used to bring the kids here all the time," Pamela Wortman said. "They would play at the pond and play on the shack in the back, where all the kids could climb on the roof. We would sit in the screened-in porch just to be able to watch the kids."
Her daughter, Beth Jungwirth, took pictures by the pond, while nearby her daughter, 3-year-old Grace, played inside the tiny shack, the front of which contains the first names of Audra Powers and her brother.
Beth, of Elgin, remembered feeding leftover french fries to the minnows in the pond when she was a child.
"I grew up going here, and I'm just kind of sad that my little ones won't be old enough to even remember this," she said. "I'm trying to take as many pictures as possible."