Popular Florida restaurant permanently closing after 35 years in Winter Park: 'off to a new chapter'

A Central Florida favorite is closing for good on Sunday, July 30.

For more than 35 years, owner and namesake Linda D’Auria has poured her life into running Linda’s Winter Park Diner on Fairbanks Avenue.

"It’s become a real sense of community," D’Auria said. "I’ve been blessed to have the regulars that I do."

Her regulars have become even more regular as the diner approaches its final days. 

Jerome Claxton said he has been coming to the diner for 20 years – "Five times a week for many years."

Some bringing her flowers and balloons before sitting down one last time for a homestyle meal at the iconic eatery.

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"London broil – best in town," Mike Aldridge, a customer of 30 years, said. "I’ll probably starve after she closes."

Behind the cash register, customers have been signing their well wishes on a banner celebrating 35 years of service.

The customers are going to miss Linda and the staff even more.

"She’s watched me grow up," Gricia Cable said."It’s family right? I’m gonna cry," Tricia Martin said.

For D’Auria, she said it was time for change and retirement. "It’s all bittersweet," she said. "It’s been very teary for the past two weeks. I didn’t realize I guess how much it means to the community."

After her sister and best friend suddenly passed away in May, she made the decision to sell the property to the developer redoing the strip mall next door.

"It's been my identity for a long time," D’Auria said.

From surviving a recession, a shutdown and new rules sparked from a pandemic, she and her staff held on and kept going.

"I feel at least we’re going out while we’re on top," D’Auria said. "And I don’t know what the future holds. I know I’ll probably do a cookbook. It makes me really glad to know that I did a good job and did what people needed and wanted. I don’t want to say it’s closing. I want to say we’re all off to a new chapter."