SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Student Prince Cafe & The Fort Dining Room on Front Street in Springfield is closing.
The restaurant has been open for nearly 85 years. It opened in 1935 as a shot, beer and sandwich place; current owner Rudi Scherff’s father bought it in the 1940’s and it has been in the family every since.
Dozens of celebrities have gone through those doors. This restaurant has staff and customers that have been working or going here for decades.
Scherff told 22News they are not making a profit. Scherff and his sister are at retirement age, and it’s just not fun anymore for them.
According to Schreff, “I’ve been here since I was 12-years-old, which is a few decades, you try to take care of your customers your staff and we always try to do the right thing, and hopefully we can continue to see the place continue for another 70years.
Scherff also said they will be open at least through Saturday and hopes to sell the restaurant in the near future. The building is owned by the New England Farm workers council.
The closing not only comes as a shock to patrons but also city leaders who are now dealing with the loss of another landmark business.
Springfield City Councilor Tim Rooke told 22News it’s a step backwards in their quest to get more people shopping and dining downtown. He says it’s a reminder of how important it is to focus on public safety.
“It’s another reason for people to believe that it has become a reality,” said Rooke. “That downtown is not safe and there are a lot of businesses struggling downtown to hang on and to stay open and until the city can take control of the crime problem and the gang problem, you’re not going to get those families coming downtown.”
This is an end of an era in Springfield. 22News will continue to cover this story throughout the week.
Below is a map of notable and iconic restaurants that have closed in downtown Springfield over the years: