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Iconic Lawton restaurant says goodbye

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- One of Lawton's iconic restaurants is closing its doors after 43-years of serving homemade meals just like mom used to make it.

Customers say there are a lot of qualities that set Big Chef apart the classic breakfast of biscuits and gravy, the food being made fresh to order, and the friendly service with a smile. April Diffee Hagler says Big Chef was started by her father Trevor Hagler in 1974. She says the best part about the restaurant is they haven't changed a thing.

"It really hasn't. It's still down home. It's still just a wonderful place to be. It's family," said Hagler.

The family came to Lawton after a flood in Illinois destroyed the restaurant Hagler's father owned there. She says it was a recommendation from one of their former cooks who was in the military and transferred to Fort Sill. Hagler says she grew up at Big Chef and remembers sitting in the office eating her lunch when she was a little girl.

"It means everything. You know when you're raised somewhere that's your home and it is going to really be missed and a lot of memories walking behind the counter when I wasn't supposed to and getting in the waitresses way you know," said Hagler.

Hagler says her father used to pour over the menus trying to pick the perfect foods for his customers.

"We introduced our Indian tacos and everybody is like we really want to recipe and we're just not willing to give that up," she said.

Lawton police lieutenant David Williams says he's been coming to Big Chef since he started out as a rookie with the department more than two decades ago.

"We always have good rapport with the people here and it gives us a chance to talk to some of the members of the public while we're out and about. It's just a good place to come to," said Williams.

Some customers left a message scrolled on a poster board outside the restaurant it reads "To the new owner: Keep Big Chef open please."

Hagler says the restaurant is closing because her mother has decided it is time to retire, but even after the last plate is dished out she wants the customers to remember the experience they had at the restaurant.

"To know that they were served with great service and a smile and you know that they felt like home while they were here," said Hagler.

The family says they do have a potential buyer for the building, but they aren't sure what will happen after they shut their doors for the last time Saturday night.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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