WILLISVILLE -- An icon of southern Illinois dining appears to be no more.
In a Dec. 28 Facebook post, the owners of The Pioneer's Cabin in Willisville announced the restaurant was permanently closed, apparently ending more than three decades of serving fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, fresh flowerpot bread and other delicacies.
"Our Cabin team and our family put their hearts and souls into keeping the Cabin a community staple," said the post, which was attributed to owners Justin and Charlene Simon. "We can say we went down fighting together. While it hurts delivering the news to you, it hurt 10x that amount watching the hardest working faces in Willisville have their hearts broken.
"They are losing the unity of a work family and that's devastating to see."
The announcement of the closure resulted in a flood of comments on the Facebook post, as former and current patrons shared their favorite memories of a rustic, family-style restaurant that started in 1983 under Dan and Mary Valerius and also featured various antiques.
The Simons bought the business in October 2016 after the Valeriuses announced their intention to retire. Prior to the sale, the Valeriuses said The Pioneer's Cabin had been on the block for "quite some time," but there were no serious inquiries.
"Nearly two years ago we jumped in to save it from closing when Dan & Mary retired," the Facebook post said. "It made our hearts full to keep The Cabin open and to be host to others creating memories just like we had throughout our lives.
"And really, it felt so good to invest in and give back to the area where we grew up. But, the closing of this location, is necessary."
In a comment to their original post, the owners said New Year's Eve was intended to be the business's last day of operation, but "terminal plumbing issues" forced an earlier decision.
A separate Facebook post a day earlier indicated The Pioneer's Cabin was closed due to frozen pipes.
In an interesting twist, the Simons stated in their post that the "business entity" of The Pioneer's Cabin would be relocated "elsewhere" in the country, while the actual building itself, its two-acre lot, all equipment, personal property and antiques are for sale.
"At this time we are only interested in 'total package' inquiries," the owners said in their Facebook post.
The post said patrons and other interested persons will eventually be able to purchase items such as Cabin Salad Dressing, strawberry butter and a cookbook on the restaurant's website at www.thepioneerscabin.com.