Community members were saddened to hear that Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard landmark Tebo's Restaurant is planning to close in May.
"This place is an icon for the neighborhood and for the entire metro area," said longtime customer Howard Grohs.
Tebo's is selling the property at 19120 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. to Carz Planet, a local car dealership. The city of Gladstone Planning Commission has approved a plan to repurpose the restaurant as a showroom for Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and BMWs.
Craig Klein was 19 when he started working at Tebo's. Klein, 62, and co-owner John Karlik, 55, (who began as a Tebo's employee in 1977) purchased the property and business in 2004 from Ted Anderson and Bob Horn.
Tebo's traces its origins to Gene & Joe's Broiler, which started in 1954, when it took over a little restaurant called the Cheese Wedge.
"The Cheese Wedge was a little house that sat right on 99E, barely enough room to to pull the car off the so-called superhighway," Klein said.
In 1957, the Gene half of Gene & Joe's went to Scottsville, Arizona, and opened Gene's Broiler, leaving Joe and Ruth Clinton running the business, which was sold to Ted Anderson and Bob Horn.
By 1972, Anderson and Horn bought up about a half-dozen more properties around the house and rebuilt a larger restaurant at the site.
"Everyone knows Ted and Bob at Gene & Joe's, so why don't you call it Tebo's," Joyce Peebler, a longtime customer of Gene & Joe's, reportedly told the owners before the renaming of the restaurant in 1972.
Tebo's success reached its height with outlets opening in King City between July 1974 and December '82, and in Gresham between August 1977 and April '80.
Since Klein and Karlik purchased the business, loyal customers kept them busy. They were able to remodel, but rising costs continued to dip into profits.
"Business has been really tough, and we've been losing money the last couple of years," Klein said. "We took a big cut in pay when we bought this place, and it just kept going down and down and down. With the minimum wage going up a buck and half per hour, I'm glad we're getting out because I don't know how we'd survive that."
Klein said that he couldn't raise prices on his regular clientele who are largely on a fixed income.
"People have asked me what draws the older crowd to our place and my answer has always been that these people have been our customers for 30 years," Klein said. "I feel that I'm walking away from family, but it's a sign of the times. It's bittersweet to be selling right now."
May 3 will be the last day to enjoy Tebo's menu of classic grilled sandwiches, typically finished off with one of their signature pies or California strawberry shortcakes, available March through Labor Day weekend. Their pies and shortcakes are topped with "the real thing," heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar and a little vanilla.
"After we close the restaurant, we're going to be maintaining the restaurant for another month to sell off memorabilia," Klein said. "We are going to make up a cookbook for all of our recipes, everything from chili to cakes, and sell it for a nominal fee."
About 60 tables with the Tebo's logo are going for $200 each, and most of them already have been ordered.