The second oldest restaurant in Galesburg will serve its final meal on December 31, 2016. The New China restaurant opened in 1928, starting in a courthouse before moving to its current location at 329 E. Main St. in Galesburg.
The restaurant offers a diverse menu that includes American and Chinese food. Owners made the closure announcement last week on New China's Facebook page.
Melinda Kilgore is a co-owner of New China. She took over operating the restaurant from her father nearly 50 years ago. Kilgore said she decided to close the restaurant as maintenance costs soar. She said booths are in need repair, and it was expensive to replace a broken air conditioner earlier this year.
Kilgore said she believes small businesses closing their doors has been a trend in Galesburg since the Maytag Plant closed more than a decade ago.
"We have nothing but chain restaurants opening, retail here. Most of my customers are on fixed income, senior citizens," Kilgore said.
Kilgore said despite customer's own financial hardships, some loyal patrons did offered to help raise money to keep New China's doors open.
But Kilgore said her mind is made up, even if her heart is heavy with the decision.
Kilgore said her customers and employees are family. "They've given me emotional support, and sometimes I've had customers that just give me grief. But I wouldn't trade it for anything," Kilgore said.
Kilgore said those memories and interactions are what she will take with her once she closes New China at the end of the year.