In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic form last year, local restaurants may have been battered but still weathered the storm and now are looking to thrive once more.

But sometimes it’s not about the pandemic.

After surgery and other health issues, Sedalia Restaurant owner Cathy Gilpin announced through Facebook Sunday that she would retire and sell the legendary business.

“After much prayer, contemplating, discussion with family and doctor, I have made the decision to retire and sell Sedalia Restaurant,” the post reads. “It has been an honor to serve you. Love, Carla.”

The Messenger reached out to Gilpin for comment but was not successful.

Richie Galloway, First District Commissioner on the Graves County Fiscal Court, was “born and raised” in Sedalia. At 67, he said he’d been around the restaurant all his life, which he described as a “pillar of the community.”

“I grew up on the front porch of the restaurant there,” he said. “You know, used to teenagers — everybody hung out at Sedalia at night.”

After Gilpin’s announcement, he said everyone felt for the well-respected family and “hated to see it close.” However, Galloway was “optimistic” that the restaurant itself would return and thrive once more, as it always has in the past.

It had served as meeting place for the Sedalia Lions Club and was a fixture for its buffet — be it breakfast or seafood on Fridays or a bounty of food and desserts on the weekend. It had also served as a place for holidays, such as Thanksgiving, as well.

Throughout his life, Galloway recalled ownership changing some six or seven times, and each time business would bounce back. So, he felt the local community — and loyal customers — would be completely receptive to a changing of the guard.

According to the Sedalia Restaurant Facebook page, the Gilpins have owned and operated the business since 1988 — a total of 32 years.

“People will miss it, I will say that. And we’ll miss it everyday, because I’m having to eat breakfast at home now,” Galloway said.

For Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry, Gilpin’s announcement was “bittersweet.” As a childhood friend of her two sons, he was very familiar with the family, working at their restaurant throughout high school and even a little during grade school.

The Gilpins had instilled “a lot of the work ethic” that he utilizes to this day. He said that the family had done a lot, not just for Sedalia but Graves County as a whole, giving the community’s youth jobs and teaching them important life lessons.

“The education they give, you can’t get that in school; you can’t get that online, you can’t buy it. You get it because you have to understand that there’s principles in life and working is one of them,” Perry said.

He knows that Carla and her husband can’t run the restaurant forever, though. At some point, someone would have to take over and run with it, even if that’s through selling it. He hopes they can sell Sedalia Restaurant to a worthy successor and enjoy retirement.

“I want them to be able to retire,” Perry said, “and I want them to be able to retire happily.”