Chuck’s Restaurant, an iconic restaurant in Placerville for 50 years, closed on Saturday, March 23.
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Located at 1318 Broadway, its current owner, Michael Tong, said he was retiring after running the restaurant for almost 20 years. On Monday, Tong and his family were at the restaurant cleaning it out and loading equipment into a truck. He was unsure if the owners of the building would try to re-open the restaurant under different management.
Chuck’s original owner was Chuck Bach who opened the restaurant in the 1960s. At the time, it was the biggest coffee shop in Placerville. Sam and Diane Wong then ran the restaurant in the late 1970s, followed by Michael and Yim Tong.
According to Laurie Smith, a waitress who worked there for 40 years, “Chuck’s has such a wonderful history. Originally it was a pancake house that was open 24 hours a day. It was packed day and night,” she said. But as more restaurants opened locally along with fast food outlets, it encountered more competition which she said led Chuck Bach to add Chinese food to the menu.
“It was difficult for us to see it close. Our customers were our friends. I’d love to see someone re-open it up and take it back to its roots,” said Smith.
Gwen Reid, another waitress at the restaurant, said the owners had told them the week prior that they were thinking of closing the restaurant in mid-April or May. But on Saturday, after the first shift, the Tongs decided “this was the day” and shut the restaurant down.
She said customers were as shocked as they were by the news. Contacting the Mountain Democrat, she said, “We felt we needed to get out the word and get some closure.”
Reid worked at Chuck’s for 14 years. “Economics had a large amount to do with it. Tong was ready to retire and with the economy being what it is, he just couldn’t cut it anymore,” Reid said.
She said she and the other waitresses hoped that someone else would take it over and improve the situation even if the Tongs decided to close the business.
“I’ll be 61 next month and this is the worst economy to be looking for a job, especially at my age,” said Reid. “We’re all in shock trying to figure this out.
“Chuck’s was middle America and a part of small town life. We celebrated customer’s birthdays and wedding anniversaries. We waited on four or five generations of the same family.”
“It was more than a job and more than a restaurant,” said Reid. “It was like a second home. For our customers, it will be life changing for some of them.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.