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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WDRB) A Louisville landmark abruptly closes its doors after two decades in business.
Lynn's Paradise Cafe had been in a dispute recently with some employees, but, the owner has given no explanation for the closing.
The only word from owner Lynn Winter came at 1:30 this morning. In a statement, Winter said, "Thank you to all of our loyal customers and faithful employees for making it possible to run a 22-year business. It's been a great run and we've had a ton of fun. The time has come to move on to new creative ventures."
For 22 years, Lynn's Paradise Cafe has been a foodie favorite; an eclectic, eccentric eatery that reflected it's owner, Lynn Winter.
But today, the entrance was roped off, the parking lot empty, except for security guards.
"It is quite distressing," said former employee Patty Tur.
Tur worked at Lynn's for 3 months until today.
"I did enjoy working there, and I'm quite distressed because I'm finally getting to a place that I needed to be," she said. "I knew I could get the rent paid. I knew I could get the things done that I needed to do, and this is quite a shock."
Tur says some employees were unhappy with changes in the way the restaurant handled tips. She had heard of a possible protest today, but can't believe that's the reason for the closing.
She says the only inkling came last night when employees were told not to report for work for the weekend.
"This morning I looked I looked on the Internet to see if they were saying it was the flu virus, if they were saying it was because of the protest and found out that she closed. And I still have not been told that we have no job," said Tur.
Throughout the day, cars slowed as they passed by, as if fans were taking one last look. Neighbors say it's a huge loss.
"Whenever we have visitors come in, we come here, and it's a landmark, you know," said Juliet Dillon.
"It's kind of hard. I hope it doesn't affect our neighborhood," said her husband Sean.
But the closing of Lynn's means more than the loss of a local favorite. It also means the loss of a major tourist attraction.
Lynn's had become as famous for its decor as for its dining. We talked with a couple visiting from California.
"We've heard about it, so we've been planning for hours to come here and eat. And now we find you nice gentlemen, but we don't find any restaurant," said Josh Hecht.
Irma Raque has seen this before. Her family owned the landmark Kaelin's restaurant for 75 years until it closed in 2006. She says this feels similar.
"The employees felt like family. They loved it dearly. They were so proud of the place, so it's just a loss to Louisville, it really is," said Raque.
People we talked to hope this is really not the end; that Lynn's will reopen perhaps under new ownership.