LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A family-owned restaurant, which has been open near the University of Louisville for more than three decades, is shutting its doors forever, citing the impacts of the spreading coronavirus.
For 33 years at the China Inn on 4th Street, food wasn’t the only reason customers stopped by to visit owner Penny Uraiklang.
"If her car wasn't here, some people didn't come in because they came to see her," Jeannie Mudd, Uraiklang's daughter, said.
For the past six years, Mudd said many customers never knew her mom was fighting a battle; she had cancer, but was still helping run the family business.
"The last days, when she was in hospice, we still didn't know everything," Mudd said. "So, we would go there and ask her about ordering stuff. Max said she was still working from the hospital."
Uraiklang recently died, but just before she did, Mudd and her nephew, Max Simco, told her they’d keep her legacy alive by running the China Inn themselves.
"Before she passed away, we made a promise that we were going to run China Inn," Simco said.
Mudd said her mother made the restaurant a place people wanted to be.
“She made everybody feel special and she would remember people,” she said. “It’s so heartwarming to me and makes me so proud of her.”
Simco said business was going well until the coronavirus began to spread.
The restaurant was forced to cut dine-in service. Simco said carryout couldn’t bring in enough money to keep the business open as costs mounted.
“We had a regular customer. He came everyday to support us,” Simco said. “He even came after we closed. I had to open the door and say, ‘I’m so sorry.’”
Mudd said Tuesday, they closed for good.
"I just want to thank all our regular customers that kept us going all this time," she said with tears running down her cheek. "I love that people had their regular days. We had people that always came Wednesdays."
She said her customers are helping her get through the pain. Many have been writing messages to her online- just as they did when she let them know her mother had passed away recently.
"I love to read them," Mudd said. "I love that I have that to go back to when I'm having a bad day or something."
Mudd said the business still has some expenses. So, it’s now selling décor and some equipment to the public to cover them.