After six years in the Bell Place Shoppes, Lonnie Theer will be closing both of his establishments this month.
The Sawdust Factory and Sauce Shoppe, along with Lon and Pat’s Gourmet Panini Grill will close on Oct. 19.
Two tenants in Bell Place Shoppes, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop and Mama Winky’s, will remain open.
Theer has leased Bell Place Shoppes from Bishop Enterprises the past six years, then sub-leased the remaining two shops. Theer’s lease will expire on Oct. 31 and will not be renewed.
Dean Bishop of Bishop Enterprises said he will secure a new lease with the remaining tenants as they search for two additional tenants. Bishop has owned the property for more than 30 years.
The Sawdust Factory opened six years ago and the Sauce Shoppe was incorporated into the same shop a year later. Theer and his wife, Pat, opened Lon and Pat’s Gourmet Panini Grill in April of 2018.
Theer, 75, said he is not ready to retire and is exploring other avenues to potentially re-open the restaurant.
“I don’t need this shop to make a living, but I opened it because I believed there was a craving for more food in the downtown area,” Theer said. “If I could find a place similar, or maybe a little bigger, I would continue on and add a baked potato bar to the restaurant. Then I would combine that with the Sawdust Factory and Sauce Shoppe.
“I had some responses for other spots in Papillion or even in Bellevue. But everything in Papillion either filled up or is not in my price bracket and I’m really not inclined to go to a different city. So everything is kind of up in the air.”
Theer said he will maintain the meat and cheese tray component of his business, serving on a delivery basis.
As a mainstay of the downtown Papillion area for six years, Theer said it has been difficult to face the reality of having to close his doors.
“It’s been hard,” he said. “I go on Facebook and there’s over 200 responses from people sad to see me closing. I have the energy and ambition of a 40-year-old and Pat knows I can’t retire yet. My goal is to make a new friend every day and I got to be friends with a lot of people, more friends than I could have ever dreamed of making.”