Virginia Residovski’s memory served her well in her nearly 14 years of running the Village Café in Cottage Grove.
“She has a memory like an elephant,” her husband, Neim Residovski, said.
Virginia Residovski can still recall the first order she took at the restaurant – two eggs over easy, bacon, raisin toast, hash browns and peanut butter. She also remembers names of customers and their regular orders.
“I was born that way, my dad said. I always tell everybody, ‘The day that I forget, you guys better start worrying,’” she said. “That’s one thing in a restaurant, though, that builds up a clientele. People feel important when you know them, acknowledge them when they come in here.”
Sunday, June 28, marked the last day for the restaurant, located at 214 W. Cottage Grove Road. It’s known for its breakfast menu and a few other favorites, specifically Greek omelets and skillets, Hollandaise sauce and French onion soup.
The reduced number of customers due to the COVID-19 restrictions, coupled with a concern for their own health conditions, led the couple to make the difficult choice to close.
“It was a real hard decision. I cried a lot,” Virginia Residovski said. “My husband – he just turned 66 – he’s got pre-existing conditions, and this virus took a big toll out of us financially. To stick money into it now to keep it going until everything gets resolved, that’s not going to be good for us in the future, because we don’t know when it’s going to get resolved.”
She said they were tentatively planning to sell the restaurant in a couple years, and maybe work part-time then. The health pandemic caused them to decide faster than they would have liked.
“The guidelines are a little bit hard to work with. It’s hard to get help to work with those guidelines now,” Virginia Residovski said. “We have to be … hands-on everything. I mean one mistake would scare me, if I make one mistake, you could get yourself in trouble, and I don’t want to put greed before health and guidelines.”
They’ve been serving takeout since the shutdown order started in March.
“I’ve had a beautiful, supportive community,” Virginia Residovski said. “It is the worst decision I’ve ever made, because … I have never met such loving customers and community like Cottage Grove, and I don’t think I ever will. I’m having a very hard time saying goodbye to people.”
She said her husband and other family members started talking about closing the doors a month ago. Only within the last two weeks did Virginia Residovski give in and decide to call it quits.
The couple worked at the business every day but Mondays, with her taking orders out front and him making the food in the kitchen. A few part-time waitresses helped on the weekends, when business picked up from the regular pace of the weekdays.
“I was married to the business six days a week, no vacation time, no nothing,” Virginia Residovski said.
Her father was in the restaurant business for 50 years, and the Residovskis operated a restaurant in Wausau before opening Village Café. They’ve been married 37 years. The couple lives in Madison, after first living in McFarland when they moved to the area. They may consider moving to Michigan to be closer to their daughter.
“We will be sad to see them go, but wish them all the best,” said Paula Severson, executive director of the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce. “Thank you for serving the Cottage Grove community for almost 14 years.”