Downtown Vendor Bids Emotional Farewell

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Just about anyone who has walked along Main Street knows about the hot dog vendor who stands outside the Downtown Mart & Souvenir Shoppe. Now after four years, he's being forced to call it quits.

Les Armbruster and his wife Nancy have become a downtown staple, grilling and serving burgers, hot dogs, and polish sausauges to the hungry people walking by. Come rain or snow, the pair is always out and grilling.

"It's about the people," said Les Armbruster. "It's not about what I do -- it's having people to talk to."

The Armbrusters set up their shop along Main Street four years ago. This past year, however, they received some bad news. The company who they lease with told them they wouldn't be allowed ro re-sign. As a result, the signs that once read "We're Open" now say "We're Closing."

"When we finally found out in September that they didn't want us here anymore, it was heartbreaking," said Nancy Armbruster.

The Armbrusters aren't the only ones left feeling heartbroken. The customers that have been coming to them for months, and in some cases years, say they can't imagine a downtown without them.

"When they leave the spirit of the people leaves," said loyal customer Olivia Filipek.

"They are a great treasure for Grand Junction," said longtime customer Bruce Pittman. "Everybody is going to miss them very, very much."

11 News called the company who leases the space to find out why the Armbrusters are being let go. They say it was a business decision that they have been discussing for more than a year. They also say they're working to improve and upgrade the property.

The Armbrusters say the fact that they're losing their store hurts but the hardest part is saying goodbye to their customers, who they consider family.

"We're going to miss our customers a lot and the good friends that we've met," said Nancy Armbruster.

"We certainly thank them all and give them all praise and glory to God for being here," said Les Armbruster. "Thank you."

Even though they're saying goodbye for now, the Armbrusters say they will continue to search and hope for another place downtown so that the sizzling smell of hot dogs and charcoal still fills the air along Main Street.

For those hoping to get one last taste of those hot dogs or to say goodbye, the Armbrusters will light their grill for the final time Saturday.

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