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Zimmerman's closes permanently, owner to start 'new chapter'

Staff writer

When Ida French closed the doors to her restaurant, Zimmerman’s Deli and Coffee Shop, Friday afternoon, only she and her two employees knew it was for the last time.

French had already reached an agreement by that point with the building’s owner, DuWayne Suffield, and after a weekend of moving, the Main St. storefront was empty by Sunday evening — no more kitchen, no more tables, no more Zimmerman’s.

“I’m done fighting,” French said.

French had struggled in recent years with health problems that prevented her from opening the restaurant consistently.

French would wake up at 2 or 3 a.m., unable to get out of bed, stricken with debilitating headaches.

“One MRI that comes back shows multiple sclerosis, one shows fibromyalgia, another comes back crystal clear, which I know that’s not right because the lesions never leave your brain,” she said. “The way to find out for sure what it is is to do a spinal tap, but those cost a lot of money, and I already have so many medical bills.”

The inconsistent hours hurt her business, both in lost time and in lost customers who went to places more certain to be open. She said she had sufficient community support, though, and that her customers liked the restaurant’s atmosphere.

“One person told me just the other day, ‘It’s the only place in town I can eat by myself and still feel at home,’” French said. “That made me cry.”

She couldn’t bring herself to tell regular customers Friday they were eating there for the last time.

“Goodbyes are my worst,” she said. “And after 10 years of being constant customers, being friends, being a part of my life, it’s like saying goodbye to family.”

French used Zimmerman’s as more than just a restaurant, also displaying her art and photography and that of other local artists. She said she sold many pieces out of her restaurant.

“Photography is like therapy for me,” she said. “I picked it up when my mother died. In my lowest of lows, I can just go shoot, and it’s like having free therapy sessions.”

She also credited the restaurant for saving her relationship with her son, Brandon, who worked at the restaurant.

“As a single mother, when you don’t have somebody else pulling for you, it’s just up to you, you and your child,” she said. “So when he went to work for me, that really saved the relationship between us.”

French is sad to leave it behind, she said, but is “ready to start a new chapter.” She said she’ll take her creativity with her, which she expressed in her photography and her recipes, wherever she goes.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, what job I have, where I go, where I end up, I’ll always have that aspect of me,” she said. “Even if it’s on the side.”

Last modified Nov. 6, 2014

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