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After Deadline: Elba House closes its doors

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Dick Hildebrand has been serving Easter Dinner for years at the Elba House.
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ELBA — The Elba House, a landmark in the small town just north of Whitewater State Park, has a closed sign on its door.

Mayor Bernard Dorman said the sign went up this week at the restaurant that first opened in 1873. It owned by Dick Hildebrand who has had it for sale "for quite some time," he said. "I really don't know why it closed … It was kind of a shock to us."

Calls to the Elba House and Hildrebrand, who lives nearby, weren't answered and there were no answering machine. The restaurant's Facebook page still highlights New Year Eve specials of prime rib or lobster and petite filet.

Dorman said the closing, if it's permanent, "is not good for the city. It brought in quite a bit of business for the town." The Elba House had a good following. "They used to have a real good business for noon day lunch," he said.

Mike Mauer of Mauer Brothers tavern, another Elba landmark that opened in 1890 and is close to the Elba House, said the closing could hurt everyone. "I don't know what the heck we're going to do come spring (when) so many people want to eat," he said. "Once they find out it's closed, they might not come to town." Or maybe more will come to Mauers and also has a restaurant open at busier times.

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In small towns, it's hard to keep a business going in winter, he said. "In the spring and summer we do pretty well," he said. "But when it comes to be this dead of the winter, it gets pretty tough." — John Weiss

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