Rock City Cafe closes in downtown Wabash

By Mandy Mahan

Debra Hardin, most recent owner of Rock City Café in downtown Wabash, has made the decision to close the doors after many years of working at and then owning the restaurant.

The café was bought by Debra’s late husband, Thomas Hardin in 1975, with Debra becoming owner in November of 2010.

She told The Paper of Wabash County that the restaurant was one of the most important things in her life because that is where she met Thomas.

Debra was a senior in high school when she applied for a job at Rock City Café and began working for her future husband.

“He fired me and then we didn’t see each other for a few years,” she said. “We ran into each other and we went out on our first date and I asked him one time why he fired me and he said, ‘I don’t know Debbie, probably that smart mouth of yours,’” she said through a laugh. “I said, ‘Well then why’d you hire me back? I still got it!’”

When the building housing the café was bought to renovate into the affordable senior housing units, Rock City Lofts, Debra continued to lease the café space.

Debra told The Paper that the closing is due to lack of finances to continue repairs.

“I had an old walk in cooler and when they changed all of the buildings there into apartments, they rewired everything and it messed the compressor up in the walk in cooler and since then, it had broken down on me three or four times and I just didn’t want to spend any more money fixing it because I only had seven more months on the lease.”

Debra said although she doesn’t have any specific plans, she is going to try to relax and retire now that she has said goodbye to the café.

Although the restaurant did not close due to COVID related reasons, Rock City Café did close its doors for four and a half months.

“Ya know, you lose your income for four and a half months and then this happens,” said Hard. “Ya know, what do you do?”

Debra wanted to extend her thanks and well wishes to everyone who has shown support to the café.

“Deciding to close was one of the hardest things I ever had to do after losing my husband. It was my whole life.” 

Posted on 2020 Oct 13