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January 2, 2013

Cotton’s closes doors

‘A SAD DAY’

TARBORO — Faye Guill, the owner of Cotton’s Restaurant, remembers the day the establishment was opened. As of Monday, she will have another moment to store in her memory bank — the closing of Cotton’s Restaurant.

Cotton’s officially closed 2 p.m. Monday to the “sadness” of many of its faithful customers. Guill personally told each customer “good bye” as they paid for their last meals.

“Thank you,” she told them. “I’ve enjoyed serving you over the years.”

Forty-one years, to be exact.

Guill and her husband, Horace, opened Cotton’s on March 1, 1971. Through the toughest periods of Edgecombe County’s unstable economy, the eatery became a Tarboro landmark where state and federal politicians dined when they came to town.

Serving a country-style buffet menu, Cotton’s was more than just a restaurant.

“It takes more than just good food to keep people coming here,” said Patsy Miller, who dined in at the restaurant on its last day. “It takes good character (by the owner), good location and an ambiance of a welcoming atmosphere. We’re going to miss this.”

Ray Rogister has been eating at Cotton’s since it opened. He, too, dined at the restaurant for the final time Monday.

“I don’t like it, but life goes on,” he said. “I’ve made lots of friends here.”

Stancil Barnes was one of more than a dozen who sat at the “community table” during the last day. The community table got its name from patrons who sit together and talk about the happenings in the town. After eating and saying goodbye to the people at the table, Barnes walked over to the cashier.

“Hurt my feelings,” he told Guill as he paid for his lunch. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m going to miss it.”

State Sen. Clark Jenkins is also a frequent guest.

This is an institutional and it is sad that is closing,” said Jenkins. “I hope that Mrs. Guill can find someone else to operate this restaurant. It is important that we have someone to operate this restaurant. This is a sad day.”

Guill said a few prospects have inquired about possibility of buying the restaurant, but no serious offers have been made.

“Right now, I’m sad and I’m glad,” she said.

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