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Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar closes doors amid pandemic

Owner Michelle Kim said sales did not recover for seven months since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Credit: WQAD
Customers dine at Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar in Galesburg, Ill. on, Saturday, its last day open for business

GALESBURG, Ill — An iconic Galesburg restaurant closed its doors Saturday night, the end of an era for Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar.

"It's been around for decades, and everybody know it," said owner Michelle Kim. "Anybody who's spent any time in Galesburg has had some memory or memories here."

Like many restaurants, Cherry Street felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim said sales did not recover for seven months since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Saturday was the last shift server Nancy Robbins worked, too. After more than 11 years working at Cherry street, Robbins emotionally recalls the memories from inside the restaurant.

"All the people I've met and the people I've worked with, they're my friends," Robbins said. "Hopefully we'll keep together."

Kim recalled memories, too.

"Cherry street is about the people," she said. "It's where people come and they gather and meet their friends and do reunions and wedding rehearsals and things like that, so it's really all about the people."

Yet, among all the lasts on Saturday, there was a first.

"We just happened to stop by on the way back from Missouri," said Moline resident Kathy Stephens.

Stephens and Pam Fisher had not heard of Cherry Street before Saturday. They simply needed a stop for lunch on their way home from St. Louis.

Stephens and Fisher did not even know the restaurant was closing.

"I think they're gonna miss it," Stephens said.

Cherry Street was no ordinary restaurant. To Kim and Robbins, it was family.

"My staff became my family," Kim said. "And that is something I’ll always treasure, is my memories with them."

This ending has enough memories to put a cherry on top.

Kim said the restaurant will transfer back to the previous owners, per the contract she agreed to when Kim purchased the restaurant. Kim and Robbins both said they hope Cherry Street can return after the pandemic under new management.