Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The longtime Five Points establishment Harper's Restaurant closed its doors Wednesday after 27 years of operation.
Edward Mickles worked as a line cook at the restaurant for the last 22 years. He said he was blindsided.
"Came to work this morning thinking I was coming to work. They had a sign on the door that said, 'We shut down. We're no longer open,'" he said. "They didn't tell us anything. Came to work this morning and they shut us down."
The owners and management staff declined to comment, but a note on the building doors read, "After a great 27 years Harper's Restaurant in 5 Points has now closed. We want to thank all of our loyal guests for all their continued support over the years. Please come visit Harper's in Charlotte and Greensboro if you are in the area."
"It's sad because everybody in this restaurant is like family and everybody just lost their job today," said Mickles.
Deborah Rosen was a regular. She said she came most days since she moved to Columbia in 1995.
"I know all of the kitchen staff, receptionists, servers, managers. It's been a home away from home. We just feel so sorry, all of us, for all of the people that work here," Rosen said.
Others shared memories on social media.
On Twitter Ted Hyman said that Harper's Restaurant was where he and his wife had their first date.
And Tracy Niehaus tweeted, "Say it isn't so so!!!"
In a statement the Five Points Association said they were, "...disheartened to hear the news of long-time Five Points merchant, Harper's Restaurant, closing its doors. They were an active member of the Association and a beloved business in our village. Every district goes through change and not unlike the rest of downtown Columbia, Five Points is experiencing tremendous growth. We are excited and optimistic for the future of our community."
Rosen said she's sad to see it go and hopes something great will take its place.
"I want somebody to buy this and make it the best restaurant in town," she said.