Working in a restaurant is not a job I saw myself enjoying a couple years ago. It wasn't until I started working that I realized there was way more to being an employee there than just "working." Going to work did not feel like a chore, it was something I looked forward to. The energy at the restaurant I worked at was positive and laid-back, and I enjoyed being in that environment. Little did I know that I would only fall in love with the place more and more as the months went on. I felt welcomed there and my co-workers were very helpful and flexible with me adjusting to the new job.

It wasn't until about a week ago that I saw myself working there for a few more years. There is a bar in this restaurant as well so something I was looking forward to was celebrating my 21st birthday with some of these people and trying out some of our famous beer. I am also a college student and the hours were flexible, the managers were very understanding and wanted me to put school first as well which I appreciated.

Although, last week some employees showed up to work only to see a sign on the door stating that the restaurant is now permanently closed due to rules in the village about restaurants owning a certain amount of locations. I still don't fully understand the circumstances, all I know is that nobody saw this coming and it was a shock to us all.

Receiving this news genuinely shook me to my core. I never expected to suddenly lose this family that I have become a part of and held so closely to my heart. That morning I had class, so I woke up to this news then had to proceed to get ready to head to campus. I will never forget sobbing in the shower that morning, being so sad and confused as to how and why I will never get to see some of these employees again since most of them don't even live in the area. I am still crushed an devastated and I think I always will be.

I have so much to thank these people for, they have impacted me to an extent they do not realize. After dealing with personal obstacles and setbacks the past year and few months, my co-workers have been there to help me get through it. I could always go to work expecting to smile and laugh, which is why I looked forward to it so much. The thought of never being able to experience that relationship with those people again brings tears to my eyes. This restaurant brought me my second family and built me a support system different then any other I've had.

Thank you to everyone that worked there for supporting me as a student and young woman, and help me grow throughout my time there. I have come such a long way since I began working there in August of 2017. This family I've been so lucky to be a part of have been there whether I need advice, a hug, a laugh, or even a shoulder to cry on. I look up to many of the older employees and managers, they've shown me how to be a harder worker and it's amazing to meet people from all sorts of backgrounds come together and work with one another. These are some of the most genuine and real people I have ever met and although my time there was not nearly long enough, I'm just grateful I got to experience it.

Thank you again to my co-workers for loving me and helping me with whatever I need. Thank you for listening when I need someone to talk to. Thank you for always being there when I need a hug or to simply cry to when life gets hard. Thank you for reminding me that I am growing into a strong woman and for being proud of me with everything I do. Thank you for showing me that I am enough and believing in me. You guys are family and I will miss this place every day. Love you always, - Lilly.