“We’re both really broken up... it’s killing us,” owner Matt Warner said.
Sis’s is a mom-and-pop breakfast and lunch place with its own sausage gravy made from scratch, hand patted burgers, fresh cheesesteaks, and hand-cut meat and vegetables, Warner said.
“My wife and I like to cook,” he said. “We do made-to-order stuff. Most of the stuff we do is real simple recipes, nothing fancy. That’s how we operate, and we are going to continue that way until it’s over.”
Warner and his wife, Mandie, took over the business July 1, 2017. Before Warner took over ownership, the location was the Time of Day Café operated by Roberta Stonerock, also known as Sis. The Time of Day Café closed June 30, 2017.
Warner and his wife had a friend who worked for Sis who mentioned she was closing her doors, so they offered to help. They went in and cleaned the place one weekend and that’s when Sis said she’d sell the business to them.
“So, we bought it and opened up July 1. My wife and I had three basic things: One, we were going to sell the food at a reasonable price. Two, we were going to make sure people had enough to eat and when they got up, they weren’t going to be hungry. Three, we were going to be good homestyle cooking,” he said.
Warner cites the rise in costs and supply chain issues as the reasons for closing.
“Food costs have just gone outrageous,” he said. “We raised our prices for the first time in nine months on Feb. 1 and we are already behind again. We raised prices to keep food costs down but we are back up again already just a month later.”
As an example, Warner said when they first started out a 10-pound slab of bacon cost $35 and now costs $57, and chicken fried steaks were $43 for a case and are now $96.
“We just got to the point where we were tired of trying to keep up. We talked about it on and off for the past couple of months and just came to the decision this weekend that we could not run the restaurant and provide a product that we’re comfortable providing to the public at a price that we think is fair. We can’t run it the way we want to run it anymore,” Warner said.
The cost increases are killing small town mom-and-pop businesses, Warner said: “It’s just sad that another small business has to go to the wayside because of cost.”
“One customer said you don’t have places like this where you can sit down and relax and meet with your friends and talk with your friends. Other restaurants don’t have that kind of environment where you don’t feel comfortable doing that. Ours is inviting when you walk in. The customer said something else that struck me. He said when you own a business, you don’t really own a business, it owns you. He’s right. To make it work, you have to live and breathe the business. We did what we needed to do the last four to five years,” Warner said.
Having to close this business is hurting the Warners, but he said he’s more sorry for the people.
“We appreciate all of the business that they have given us and we’re sorry that we had to do this. It’s been a pleasure serving them,” he said. “We’re more sorry for the people than we are for us because of the people that eat here.”
People from other cities and states come to Sis’s just for breakfast. As an example, Warner mentioned a little boy from Lima who saw a commercial on TV and had his parents bring him to the restaurant just for pancakes.
Warner announced the closing on Facebook, where over 240 people had good things to say about the restaurant.
“We just recently found your restaurant and loved the service and the home feeling eating there. The look on my brother-in-law’s face when he received that enormous pancake. Truly will miss you and your family,” Jeff Roland said.
“So sad to read this. Me and family and good friends made wonderful memories there. So nice that you called out our names when we came in... The Time taken for reading labels for my food allergies... a place you made people feel special. This is just really sad. Best wishes to you and all the great staff too,” Beckie J. Neff-Artist commented.
“So sorry to hear this. Loved your restaurant. Great food and friendly staff. We would drive from Columbus just for breakfast. You will be missed,” Joann Herdman said.
Although the restaurant is closing, its “Wall of Honor” will live on with pictures and memorabilia at the new general store, which is is expected to open later this year.
As for their next steps, Warner is retired from the Air Force but works a full-time engineering job, and said he and his wife will get to travel.
“We will get to do a lot more traveling than before. We will get to see some places we couldn’t,” he said. “When you own a business, you can’t just go places. You have to be around for the most part.”