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Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Waitress Patty Buckman waits on former waitresses Thelma French, center, and Sherry Tenwolde on Wednesday before the Tiffin Room restaurant closed.

Going, going, gone. The open-face roast beef sandwiches, the apple betty, the fish and chips, and the chocolate sodas are now a mere memory.

The Tiffin Room, once the dining oasis of the old ZCMI stores, served up its last orders of chicken pot pie Wednesday.

It's the latest closure as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renovates the ZCMI Center block, which will become part of City Creek Center, set to open in 2011. The restaurant also served as a reminder of ZCMI's glory days, before it became part of Meier & Frank and then Macy's.

The restaurant has 12 of the original pine columns from the first Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution store that opened in 1876, and sheets of embossed tin from the original Tiffin Room ceiling, according to a 1976 company advertising insert. Macy's store manager Donald Dalton said the fixtures will be offered back to the LDS Church.

City Creek Center spokesman Dale Bills did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment Wednesday.

Macy's corporate spokesperson Denise Hinton said she had no idea if the restaurant will reopen when the downtown renovation is complete. "It's four years down the road. I don't know if they've finalized plans for what the store is going to look like," she said.

On its last day, an abbreviated menu was served, since many staffers had already gone on to new jobs.

Longtime customers and former employees came back to bid the place farewell. Thelma French and Sherry Tenwolde, who both spent over 20 years working there, were waited on by their friend, Patty Buckman, who said, "They came here to make me cry."

"This is sad," agreed Sherry Tenwolde. "We had to have one of their famous bacon cheeseburgers one last time."

Teressa Jackson has held her hostess post for 20 years. Now 84, she said, "It's been one of the most wonderful jobs. That's how I've kept going, it's given me plenty of exercise."

Jason Mathis, who works downtown at Intermountain Health Care, came in with a group from his office. "The first time I came here was with a friend's grandma, when I was probably 10," he said. "It's been an institution for so long. I know 'unique' is an overused word, but it's a piece of Salt Lake history that you don't find anywhere else."

Dalton said more people began coming in when they heard the restaurant was closing. "The nostalgic value has attracted people."

Dalton said he remembered eating there as a child when it was time for back-to-school or Christmas shopping. It was also a favorite spot for the ladies-who-lunch crowd.

"My grandmother would meet her sisters and girlfriends monthly down here, wearing their white gloves and little hats, and they would make a day of it," he added.

The surroundings — the old soda fountain, white tablecloths, show tunes being played on a grand piano — speak of an era before fast-food courts. A 1947 brochure on the Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution lists the "tea room," as one of its many departments.

Manager Sharleen Sullivan said that people often ask for old recipes, such as the apple betty, but unfortunately, no one has been able to locate them.

As diners ate their last Tiffin Room meals, pianist Paul Wainright provided background music. One of the last songs he chose, which seemed to fit the occasion, was "An Affair To Remember."


E-mail: vphillips@desnews.com