Customers prepare to say “goodbye” to an iconic restaurant

After 79 years, the doors are closing this weekend

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After nearly 80 years, Student Prince Cafe and the Fort Restaurant will serve its last meal on Saturday and hold one last open house on Sunday before closing its doors for good.

It’s an end of an era. The Student Prince Cafe and the Fort Restaurant in Springfield will soon say “goodbye” to its longtime customers.

Lori Devine told Longmeadow told 22News she changed her dinner plans Monday night to come dine at the Student Prince.

The Student Prince opened as a small sandwich shop back in 1935. Current Owner Rudi Scherff’s father bought the place in the 40’s. Now, 79 years later, the landmark restaurant serves up traditional German food and drinks to a capacity of 250 diners.

One regular said, “You go to some places, like bars and restaurants, that are continuously updating, becoming trendy and changing. This place never changed. Got a good meal. You got that consistency of, you know, the same experience.”

student prince restaurantMany people told 22News they’ve been eating at Student Prince once a week for decades. It’s a place that carries fond memories for many western Massachusetts families.

Devine said, “I don’t know where we’ll go once a week. You know, there’s a lot of restaurants missing from Springfield now, so we have to find some new places. If anything can happen and they can remain open, we’d be really happy.”

However, Scherff said he hasn’t made a profit in a long time. He told 22News he’s already talked to a few potential buyers who might be able to reopen the business in the near future.

The Student Prince closing comes as a shock to both patrons and city leaders who now have to deal with the loss of another landmark business.

State Senator Gale Candaras told 22News the Student Prince is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, that’s been the go-to place for many western Massachusetts residents.

Candaras said the Fort’s closing will leave a lasting impact on the downtown economy. She said, “This restaurant is part of the hearts and the minds and the fabric of the City of Springfield and the city will not be the same without this place.”

The New England Farm Workers Council owns the building.

Here is what some people are saying on the 22News Facebook page about the closing:

Shaun Allen: “My condolences to all those impacted by this sad news; the pain in the hearts of the owners having to make this decision, the countless families who depended on the salaries generated by the staff, all of the vendors and it’s economic impact in the area…and the culture of downtown Springfield that will now be forever changed.”

Dianne Allen Badger: “We will miss it very much, the city’s history is there. There is no place in Springfield like it now.”

Michelle Tyndall Noga: “Such a great restaurant. No one wants to travel downtown because of the crime.”

Below is a map of notable and iconic restaurants that have closed in downtown Springfield over the years:

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