WINTER PARK, Fla. – You may have passed it in Winter Park. It’s a Central Florida landmark known for its great breakfast and even better customer service.
Linda’s Winter Park Diner on Fairbanks Avenue closed its doors Sunday for the final time, 35 years after being bought by Linda D’Auria.
There were lots of hugs and smiles inside the diner as D’Auria, 67, did her final walkthrough and said goodbye to many of her loyal customers one last time. Many people also left behind balloons, flowers and powerful messages written on a board inside the diner to show their appreciation.
“I’ve been truly blessed,” D’Auria said.
[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]
The Central Florida landmark has been around since the 1950s. Decades after it changed hands to D’Auria in 1988, she told News 6 she’s retiring and hoping to spend more time with her family.
“My sister passed away unexpectedly on May 1st and I think everything just lined up after that. She was telling me for a while, saying, ‘How long are you going to keep working? You’ve been tied down, you need to live your life,’” D’Auria said.
She said she’s selling the building and helping many of her employees find work.
“The key people who have been with me in the kitchen for 20-30 years, we are all over the age of 65,” D’Auria said. “Without them, I couldn’t have lasted 35 years.”
“The food, the people who work here, everyone has been just super nice,” said customer Refmann Lee.
Customers call the diner a staple, known for its great food and customer service.
“I moved here and I said, ‘I’ve got to find a place that feels like home,’ and this has certainly been the place,” said customer Judy Clarke.
It’s bittersweet for the owner’s daughter, who even had her wedding reception inside the diner.
“I’m excited for her and the next chapter, but it’s also sad because this has been my entire life,” said Gina Dilly.
Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below: