Farnesi's Restaurant in Madera to close at the end of May

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The sign has been beckoning travelers on State Route 99 for 55 years.

But these days most ordering up inside are regulars; local folks like Ruby Mull. She's been coming here for, "28 years. Every day. Sometimes at night."

The restaurant is called Farnesi's. The owner is Don Cederlof, 73 now, and he's been here for nearly all his life.

"I started work here right of school in 1964 I was a dishwasher," he said. "I worked for a few months they asked me if I wanted to learn how to cook, so I've been cooking the same thing ever since."

He bought the place from the Farnesi's in 1975 and hasn't changed a thing.

"Some people call it comfort food," he said. "I call it diner food, you know in the old days this was like a highway diner."

Chicken fried steaks, liver and onions, meat loaf, steaks and fish are just to name a couple of items on the menu.
Don has decided to retire. His two daughters, Paula Cederlof and Debbie Wahlen say their dad needs a break after working seven days a week for 50 years.

Pat Philp has been tending bar at Farnesi's for decades, and she has seen a lot of changes.

"Well, when I started out it was screwdrivers, Manhattans, Gibsons, Bourbon and water, Margaritas, it's not that way anymore," she said. "I can't say but its weird drinks."

But she's going to miss it weird drinks and all. But agrees that Don deserves a happy retirement.

Since word of the coming closure got out, business is booming.. Manager Lisa York says customers have been coming in from throughout the country to say goodbye.

"I mean all over the place to come and have their last bread pudding or last chicken fried steak you know I am just grateful everybody is showing Don so much they love."

Despite all the hard work, Don says he will miss it.

"I'm pretty sure, yes, you get up and go to work every day for 50 years, same place, you will miss it. Miss the people," he said.

Now the question for Ruby and her friends is, where will they go to eat?

"We don't know," she said. "That's the whole thing."

The last meal at Farnesi's Restaurant and Lounge in Madera will be served May 31.

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The sign has been beckoning travelers on Highway 99 for 55 years. Now, the restaurant is set to close at the end of May.

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