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Student Prince to Close, Expected to Reopen Under New Ownership

SPRINGFIELD — The Student Prince Cafe and the Fort Dining Room will close on Monday, June 30, and is expected to reopen in about a month, most likely under new ownership. Managing Partner Rudi Scherff told the Republican that he and his sister, fellow Managing Partner Barbara Meunier, haven’t made money with the downtown landmark for some time. He added that several prospective buyers are interested in the 79-year-old German restaurant, which has a staff of 79 and seats 240 patrons. Scherff also noted that a combination of age, declining business, and a major construction project nearby on Interstate 91 — potentially disrupting downtown traffic and keeping away diners from Connecticut — contributed to the decision to sell. He added that business has generally declined as fewer people are willing to shop or eat downtown, partly because of a perception of crime. He said lunch business, dependent on office workers, has also declined, which led to his decision to close a storefront deli on Main Street three and a half years ago. The Student Prince Cafe opened in 1935, followed by the Fort in 1946. Rudi Scherff and Rupprecht Scherff, Meunier’s father, began working there in 1949, and the elder Scherff bought the establishment in 1961. He died in 1996. In 2008, Gourmet magazine listed the Fort as one of the “21 Legendary Restaurants You Must Visit.”


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