Mike Moy leaned over a cutting board, chopping vegetables Nov. 25, the last day that Bloomington Sandwich Company was open after 15 years of business. Quiet music played in the empty lobby as Moy prepared sandwiches for his business one last time.
Like many local businesses, Moy, who has been manager of the store since it opened, said he made the decision to close the restaurant because business was down considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moy said he used to get a lot of catering orders from IU or from different sports teams in town. He said when sports teams would dine in they would fill the entire lobby of the restaurant. On its last day open, the restaurant was had mostly empty booths and customers waiting for their takeout orders.
“We’re missing a lot of sales because of COVID,” he said.
Moy said working at Bloomington Sandwich Company helped get his three daughters through college. When the restaurant was open, many in the Bloomington community were loyal customers throughout the years, he said.
As the last hours of the restaurant neared, more customers entered the restaurant, many of them regulars supporting Bloomington Sandwich Company on their last day. In line, they were separated by yellow duct tape marking the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ruth Harpool had been eating at Bloomington Sandwich Company for three years. For her, the restaurant represents good memories she had with friends.
“We’d come down here and chat and laugh and cry on each other’s shoulders,” Harpool said. “It was a safe place.”
Harpool pointed at a table by the window she used to sit at with her friends. She said she fell in love with the restaurant because of its warm and welcoming atmosphere.
On the last day the store was open, Harpool said she was taking an order to a friend she used to eat at the restaurant with. She hadn’t seen him since before the COVID-19 pandemic started and said she felt like Bloomington Sandwich Company was bringing them together one last time.
“I think Bloomington will be different without it,” she said.
The Luedemann family have been customers of Bloomington Sandwich Company since their son, Jaylin, was 2 years old. He’s now 13.
Richard Luedemann said the family would miss the food and restaurant environment, but most of all that they’d miss Moy. He said Moy’s service set Bloomington Sandwich Company apart from other restaurants.
Moy treated everyone that entered the restaurant with respect, Luedemann said. He said once a person experiencing homelessness came into the restaurant and Moy gave him a meal for free. Jaylin Luedemann said this left an impression on him because he’s seen different businesses treat unhoused people poorly.
“We’ll really miss him,” Luedemann said.
Elaine and Richard Hoff have been dining at Bloomington Sandwich Company for 14 years. Elaine said she thinks the restaurant had the best Reubens in the state of Indiana. She said she and Richard would miss the sandwiches and miss Moy and his service.
“Very few restaurants have the personality that this one has,” Richard said.
Moy said he thinks Bloomington Sandwich Company had the best customers in town. Of everything, he said he’d miss the customers the most.
“They’re all coming in, one at a time, showing their love,” Moy said.