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Old-Fashioned Taffie's

Living in the same community where you grew up comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies. An example of this is feeling pangs of sadness for the closing of a restaurant whose food, decor and service you weren't particularly fond of. Such is the effect that memory and place can have on us.

I remember going to Taffie's as a kid, sometime during the early-mid 1980s, mostly with my dad. Lewis seemed to know a lot of the clientele there, mostly blue collar types, and we'd often plunk down on some stools at the bar in the smoking section and he'd chat with them.

It was unusual to go on solo outings with my dad, so these trips to Taffie's are rather pronounced in memory. I can remember us going there one morning and learning that the Red Wheel restaurant had burned down. Other times, we'd see friendly Mr. Roberts there, father of a classmate of mine, and seemingly good acquaintance of my dad.

Sometimes mom came with us, and on those occasions we'd sit in the back of the restaurant, in the non-smoking section. There we'd order lunch or dinner, almost always something with meat, bread and gravy, and I'd sit, fascinated, looking at the vertical numbers on the wall flash whenever a table's order was ready.

Earlier I mentioned not being particularly fond of the restaurant, and this is true. I didn't care much for sitting in the smoking section with dad. And, with the smoking section being in the front area of the restaurant, getting to the non-smoking area entailed a few whiffs of smoke. Upon revisiting Taffie's as an adult, I discovered it had not changed in either decor or food.

Still, I'm saddened as I learn of Taffie's closing tomorrow. It's old school Champaign. I doubt it gained many new customers in recent years, so there's only an aging few of us who will remember it well. I imagine my dad's ghost visiting there every now and then, sidling-up to the bar for a spectral cigarette and chat with the other souls who used to frequent the place.


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