Veteran-owned café struggling with inflation saved by Lake County community

Umatilla restaurant saved from brink of closure thanks to outpour of support

A community has come together to support a veteran-owned café after it announced plans to close its doors due to inflation costs.

UMATILLA, Fla. – A community has come together to support a veteran-owned café after it announced plans to close its doors due to inflation costs.

“It’s a beautiful thing ... it’s more than I can ask for... We were saved by the community, and that’s amazing,” owners Beth and Bruce Chambers said.

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Both said they are still in disbelief.

The couple owns Combat Café, a restaurant nestled along Route 19 in Umatilla, but recent inflation spikes pushed them to the brink of closing down.

The pair sat down with News 6 and said, “In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad when the prices were fair, and being able to adjust to it… we want to be fair, too. We can’t raise their prices by $15 a plate to make a profit. That’s just not feasible, especially for this area.”

The Chamberses announced last week they would be shutting down for good.

They said that in those final moments before closing their doors, a flood of community support started pouring in as some customers started a GoFundMe to help pay for bills, and one man even helped to pay the rent.

“I think it was three days because that was all the food we had left, but we had such an intake of people coming we had to go shopping twice!” Beth Chambers said.

Toby Cox said his men’s church group meets at the Combat Café once a month.

“This place, man, for a lot of us feels like home. You know, they’re like family,” Cox said.

He added the atmosphere speaks for itself, explaining why so many people support the veteran-owned café.

“Everybody loves the people that are around here, and it is important to have a family. It is important to have the support and understanding (of) how they feel knowing the community is behind them and for us to have a place to go,” Cox said.

Going forward, the Chambers family will be looking at the menu, expanding their merchandise and possibly fundraising to stay in business.

In the meantime, both said they are simply thankful.

“Light will always overpower the darkness. You know, we were in a pretty dark time, but I gave it to God, and he gave it back to me,” Bruce Chamers said.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.