Saturday, March 9, 2013
A popular family-owned eatery, known for its delicious home-cooking and refreshing limeade and ice cream, is closing its doors after 49 years in business.
Miller's Five Drive In, located in downtown Augusta, will close Sunday at 6 p.m.
"It's sad, it's really sad," Owner Judy Miller said. "I just can't handle it anymore so I'm going to close it up."
Miller says her battle with cancer has taken a lot out of her. So much so, she had planned on closing the business in November before deciding against it.
But after her chemotherapy appointment Thursday, she made a quick decision that she would close the doors just three days later.
"That way I didn't have to think about it," Miller said. "I sit and cry because this has been my life for 49 and a half years."
Judy and her husband Lee opened the business in 1964. The name "Miller's Five" comes from the five most popular items: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, BBQ beef, shakes, and shaved ice.
"This (business) was really my husband's baby," Miller said.
Her husband passed away three years ago. She and the rest of the family have kept it running ever since.
In the nearly five decades Miller's Five has been open, all of Judy's children have worked at the business. She says all but one of her grandchildren also began their working career at Miller's Five.
"I've been working here since I could look over the counters," Judy's daughter Melissa Williams said.
Melissa and her siblings have fond memories of growing up in the restaurant.
Judy's only son, Kevin Miller, says he remembers grabbing a pillow and a blanket and sleeping in the cupboards in the kitchen until his mom and dad would carry him out.
Another of Judy's daughters, Tearie Shipman, says she remembers her father teaching her how to count change. Late at night after the restaurant closed, she said he would pull out a five-dollar bill and ask her and her siblings to give him change for an amount like $1.17.
But it's not just the family that has great memories of Miller's Five.
After family members made the announcement Thursday on Facebook that they would close the business, hundreds of customers have flocked to town for one last taste.
"It's just good home-cooking and you can't get that anywhere else," Augusta's Tami Jolin said. "This is the first job my best friend had. We would come for ice cream and suckers after school."
Not only people from Augusta, but people from all over the area made the trip for the final weekend of Miller's Five.
"Thought I'd better come out and get a cherry limeade for the last time," Wichita's Adam Wells said. "I came to Miller's Five for years after school and little league baseball games."
The family says they had no idea they would get this kind of a response in the business's final days.
"I didn't expect the kind of reaction I'm getting from the townspeople," Judy Miller said. "It is just amazing. People stand in line for 30 minutes to an hour, out in the rain, waiting on their order!"
Judy and her family members say they have the best customers. Many of the family members had tears rolling down their cheeks as they talked about serving them for the last time.
"I'm going to miss the customers, they've made (the experience)," Williams said. "I just want to tell them thank you for 49 years."