PINE GROVE TOWNSHIP-- A Schuylkill County restaurant known for its live gospel music held a farewell gala Saturday night, before closing its doors.
The Sholl Family Restaurant had been in business on Route 443 for 15 years. When it opened Steven Sholl, his parents, wife, and daughter all worked there.
While his father Jacob Scholl wished for the restaurant to stay open after his passing, economics took a toll and Steven Sholl made the tough decision to close.
Saturday morning the restaurant served a final meal to the public.
Hours later the doors opened for a special concert and dinner celebrating the community that had developed.
"They are taking bets on how many times I am going to cry tonight,and it will be pretty many," said Steven Sholl.
Sholl said that running a restaurant was never just about food,it was about family and faith, feeding his customers stomachs and souls. " We weren't family style, we were family," said Sholl.
Music was part of what made the place unique, sometimes country or bluegrass, but especially gospel.
"Performing here was a little bit different than in a regular church. Here people can really relax and open up," said Randy Simpson, a gospel singer.
While Steven Sholl said that bidding farewell to his customers and staff is hard, knowing what the place is becoming makes it a little easier.
The Pine Grove Community Church already sits just a few yards away, sharing a lot with the restaurant. A few months ago the congregation, which has around 300 members, purchased the property. Pastor Bob Kensinger said there are many possible uses for the restaurant building, including providing more space for youth services.
"It can be receptions for the weddings in the church, counseling, we have a great youth program," said Kensinger.
A cyber-cafe is another possibility under consideration. Saturday the pastor visited the restaurant kitchen to bid the Sholls good-bye.
"What's important is that our customers know along the way how much we really did appreciate them," said David Sholl.