Henning’s pours last root beer, closes for good

Local News

HOOPESTON, Ill. (WCIA) – After more than 70 years of operation, Henning’s Root Beer Stand in Hoopeston served its last customers today.

Regular customers packed the restaurant today to say goodbye to longtime employee and owner Shirley Harper. Hoopeston resident Barbara Kemp was one of them.

“We all hate to see it go because we won’t see people as much,” Kemp said.

Kemp has been a regular for three years after moving to Hoopeston from Chicago.

“If I had not liked the place when the first day I came in, I would not have come back,” Kemp said.

You could say it was love at first bite.

“I usually order biscuits and gravy,” Kemp said. “Today I ordered French toast. They got a number of dishes that’s very good.”

But it was more than a good place to just eat good food. It provided the perfect ingredients for lifelong friendships.

“I probably wouldn’t have met as many nice people,” Kemp said.

As its name implies, the restaurant served a lot of root beer, and Harper lost count of how many gallons her restaurant served in the final days of operation. But she says they serve something else, a secret ingredient: love.

“We pour a lot of love,” Harper said. “We feel that’s what our customers like about us and that’s what we like about our customers.”

Harper started working at the restaurant as a cook when she was 16. She liked the customers so much that she bought the restaurant in the 90s when it went up for sale.

“It was too good of a deal to pass up and I loved the restaurant business and I loved my customers,” Harper said.

Harper says she is going to miss a lot, but she’ll miss the people the most.

“I will miss my employees and I will miss my customers.”

Harper plans to take the next six months off and go from there.

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