The owners of Rochester's Maid-Rite Diner made a tough decision this week and closed their doors for good.

While the red-and-white decorated diner at 90 14th St. S.W. stood closed and empty Friday morning, the Iowa icon of Maid-Rite is not completely gone from Rochester and the area.

"We still have the Maid-Rite lunch truck. We'll still be doing catering, fairs, weddings and other events," says Don Sanford, who owns the Rochester franchise with his wife, Noreen Sanford, and their daughter, Reann Blumers. "We're going to be looking to re-locate."

Sanford acknowledged it was tough to close the diner that his family opened about two years ago in the Crossroads Plaza across from the Olmsted County Fairgrounds. The diner had five on staff when it closed.

"It was just a business decision that had to be made," he says. "Now we're in change mode."

For the past several months, Sandford has been driving the Maid-Rite Lunch Box truck to surrounding communities as serve up Maid-Rite's distinctive loose meat burgers to hungry folks on their lunch breaks.

He plans to keep rolling on the route to Red Wing and Owatonna five days a week. Look for him and the truck to be cooking at area fairs and festivals again this summer.

Sanford says he still stands behind Maid-Rite's burgers and shakes.

"We have great food. It is a great sandwich," he says. "We tried our hardest."

The Maid-Rite chapter at Crossroads Plaza may have come to an end, but the chatter on the street is that another food operation is already thinking about making a fast move to take over the 1,437-square-foot space with its 47 seats, a lunch counter and a drive-through window.

Biz buzz

Still waiting on the signal to go.

I need to qualify my previous column about the downtown hotel on South Broadway.

Yes, the Holiday Inn sign is up over the front door. However, it is not officially a Holiday Inn hotel, yet.

When it is truly a Holiday Inn, the green sign will be lit up.

Erika Trempe of Complete Hospitality Management, a team that is helping with the transition, pointed out the distinction.

So until they get the green light from the InterContinental Hotels Group, the 170-room complex owned by Mike Bhatka remains the independent Rochester City Centre Hotel for now.

Oh well, this isn't the first time I drove ahead without noticing the green light was not on yet. At least I don't get a ticket for this kind reckless driving. Heh.

Columnist and reporter Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street.