NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - The woman who's owned and managed a Noblesville steakhouse for more than three decades hung up her apron for good on New Year's Eve.
Nancy Lutz and her husband Dave bought the restaurant and named it Lutz's Steakhouse in the early 1980s. The restaurant was slated to close on New Year's Eve in 2014, but Lutz said she's found a buyer.
Wednesday night brought hugs and flowers for Nancy Lutz, still hard at work during a booked up New Year's Eve Dinner Service, one that would be her last.
Lutz is stepping away from the steakhouse that bears her name. It's one she and her husband bought in 1983. Neither had any restaurant experience. Dave Lutz was vice president of a manufacturing firm, and Nancy was a school teacher.
"We changed nothing, because we really didn't know any better, and that was some of the keys to our success," she said, "Service is key and hopefully we've done those things, obviously for 30 years, we've done something."
Over the years, the business stayed family-owned. Dave Lutz kept the books by hand. He died five years ago after a bout with cancer.
"Everybody said you'll know when it's time to retire, and they were right," said Lutz.
Nancy decided in November to retire, and that meant the steakhouse would have to close.
"I love coming in each day. I love the staff. I love the clientele, but I just don't have the energy to do what I need to do to make this a viable business," she said.
Lutz said now the steakhouse won't shut down for good. A buyer is in line and plans to keep the name, menu and staff. The restaurant is expected to reopen sometime in mid-January, but Nancy won't be there.
"I'll be back to visit and eat," she said jokingly, "I laugh one minute and tear up the next but knowing that it will continue is just making it much more a celebration."
Longtime employees like Mindy Stephens said she's thankful for all the memories.
"I got a lot of mixed emotions about it, last night with Nancy, going into the new year, got a lot to look forward to," said Stephens, who'd worked there for t30 years.