SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Those wild tea parties in Springfield just won't be the same.
The pzazz is going to be missing after Friday with the closing of a unique downtown restaurant: the late, great Ruthie B's.
"I'm going to miss this. This is the best place in the whole world," said Dale Standley, a longtime customer.
The last pour from the tea pot is near for Ruthie B's. The downtown shop packed with a whimsical mixture of upside-down umbrellas, tomato soup and old stuff is closing for good. Ballenger said that after 20 years of running the business at three different locations, it was just time to hang it up. All antiques not sold by Friday will be auctioned off on Jan. 30.
"I'm so glad the end is almost here. I can believe it. Yes I'm so ready," said Ruth Ballenger, the real Ruthie B.
She may be ready to retire. Her devoted customers are not.
"She is loud, fun, always happy. She always has a smile on her face," said 17-year-old Jessica Standley, Dale's daughter.
Jessica and her mom go to Ruthie B's once or twice a month without fail.
The teenager said Ruthie B's is where she can be a little girl again, "like roaming around through your grandmother's house, and it's just fun."
On Wednesday, the chefs in the kitchen served up 8 gallons of the famous tomato soup.
Cindy Reid has been a server and chef for 13 years at Ruthie B's.
"It's amazing, the people that come and go," she said. "You make so many friends and now I'm not going to see half of them."
From Alice Rasmussen the piano player to the gorilla with no name, customers said the end of Ruthie B's will leave a void.
"Which is kind of unbelievable if you think about it - just a little restaurant and antique store," Ballenger said.