For more than 50 years, Nick and Demi Adam have greeted not only diners from all over the world, but they have also fed their community members, and a host of others that have become more than friends over the years.
The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, known for its location on Route 66, has been home to countless wedding receptions, baptism meals, funeral dinners and family get-togethers since it first opened its doors in 1924. Now, there will be some new faces greeting the diners, but it will remain a place for families.
"This place is an institution," said Kara Steffens, who bought the restaurant with her husband, Marty, and Will Law, who will oversee the day-to-day operations of the iconic restaurant.
The Steffens couple currently own and operate Maverick Steaks & Spirits in Litchfield, which will remain open.
"That's probably the biggest question we've gotten," said Kara, with a smile. "But we are looking forward to something new and different as well."
The Adam couple officially marked their last day at the Ariston on Saturday, June 30, although they greeted familiar customers throughout the restaurant all week long. Staff members had several special gifts for them before the final dinner rush on Saturday evening.
"This is certainly a bittersweet time for us," said Demi. "But we are excited, and we have no regrets."
The Adam couple officially began working at the Ariston in 1966, almost as soon as they returned from their honeymoon that year.
Over the years, both Nick and Demi said it's been the people they have enjoyed most.
"There have just been some spectacular people, and so many of them have been in this week," Demi said. "We also have wonderful, dedicated employees, and we couldn't have done it without them."
Nick added that their employees have just become an extension of their family throughout his career, and he's now hiring grandchildren of people that have worked for him at times.
"We have been able to share so much with people," Nick said.
Up next, the Adam couple plans to relax and rest, as well as enjoy an upcoming trip to Chicago. And who knows, maybe someday, they will even have a chance to travel the Mother Road together, enjoying many special spots along the way, just like the Ariston.
And they have nothing but best wishes for the trio who will take over the family restaurant, who already have more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant business.
"They have a passion for the restaurant business," Nick said. "And if you're going to succeed, you have to have that passion."
Law, along with Marty and Kara, echoed those same sentiments in taking over the business.
"It's just an honor to continue on what their family has provided to the whole community," Law said.
For now, the trio will keep the same abbreviated hours the restaurant was currently open, along with the same menu and the same staff.
"It's going to take a little bit for us to get ready," Kara said. "In this business, Nick and Demi set a certain standard for service and we don't want to do a mediocre job. We want to ease ourselves into it and make sure we are doing well."
All three said they are once again looking forward to working together in the community where they have raised their families.
"There's no one else I would rather do this with," Kara said with a smile. "Nick and Demi spent their lives doing this and we're honored to take it over. We're going to love it like they did."