Short Stop’s Closure and the Romance of Small Business

The following is a staff member’s op/ed piece and does not reflect the views of The Quadrangle’s Editorial Board, the College or the student body.

When was the last time you did something truly special? Made a memory that will stick with you for a lifetime? Created an impact on someone’s life for just a moment? Albeit small, I was able to do that this past week after being the last customer in the Short Stop Diner on Broadway.

I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie or even a critic of any kind. Rather, I was just hungry for a burger after a long drive back to campus after spring break. On my way home for break, I noticed the announcement of Short Stop’s closure pop up on my Facebook as I was scrolling down on my news feed. It was shocking to say the least, as Short Stop had become a favorite eatery of mine.

Short Stop was something I walked past on my way to and from Leo for class. When my family came to visit and wanted a quaint sit-down meal before heading into the city, I offered Short Stop as I hadn’t tried it before but it looked like it fit.

My family immediately fell in love with it. We ordered an arrangement of breakfast foods, burgers and milkshakes. My large entourage, split between two booths at the front of the restaurant, chatted back and forth. The two youngest, my twin cousins, blew their crumpled straw wrappers over the backs of their seats to try and hit our grandfather in the head. Laughs were had, we were able to catch up since I had last seen them and great diner-typical food was eaten.

After my meal with my family, I returned a few more times. On the morning of my 20th birthday, I was craving chocolate chip pancakes. Short Stop was my choice and it didn’t disappoint.

Now not even a year later, the restaurant announced its closure on Facebook, after 20-plus years of business. It was shocking, but I made a note of the closing date being Mar. 19 and told my boyfriend we had to enjoy their food one last time.

Maybe the reason I felt such a connection to Short Stop was its relation to the small-town diners and cafés back home. Living in suburbia, there is a good mixture of corporations and small businesses. The cafés on Main Street were the places I frequented throughout high school. One of my high school classmates opened up her own small business but due to the economic climate we’re in, she had to close it down.

Perhaps this relation to the business back home was what moved me into going to Short Stop on their last day before closing their doors forever. My boyfriend and I arrived around a half-hour before closing and got our usual burger, fries and chocolate milkshake.

As we chatted about our upcoming weeks, I noticed that the chef was taking out the bulky garbage bags from behind the counter and our waitress was collecting the near-empty salt and pepper shakers. The woman chatting loudly on her phone, eating at the counter, left and we were the only persons still in the establishment. The chef looked around at the empty restaurant and went out into the cold night to start pulling the metal grates over the front windows.

We paid for our meal and our waitress had a tear in her eye. She handed me the receipt, the last one that would ever be printed in Short Stop. Then, she came around from behind the counter and gave my boyfriend and me a hug. She told us we hadn’t seen the last of Short Stop and thanked us for the business and encouraged us to grab a drink from their fridge.

I sipped the Kiwi Strawberry Snapple on my walk to class the next day, thinking about that small moment I will keep in my mind. Small businesses are an important part of our daily lives. We shop at corporations daily, but there’s a clear reason we have Small Business Saturdays.

When we shop at tiny restaurants, we’re supporting families and their lives. Short Stop was one of those businesses that I’ll remember and wish I could support more, but I’m happy it’ll be something I can look back on long after I graduate.