A longtime culinary institution in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood closed its doors permanently Tuesday.
After 21 years, Miller Bakery Cafe is no longer.
Owner and chef Gary Sanders did not wish to comment fully Tuesday but said it's been a decision "we've been struggling over for a while."
Sanders then released an e-mail statement saying that after more than two decades of a successful run in Miller, it's time for him to close "this incredible chapter" and move on to new ventures.
"It was a privilege to come of age as a chef here in Miller, and partnering with this community taught me many things about what it means to serve," Sanders said in the statement. "I do feel like I created a place that brought strangers together, and many became lasting friends over the ever-evolving Miller Bakery dining room and bar."
Because of rising food costs due to fuel prices, the costs of doing business have skyrocketed to a place that demands a volume that Miller Beach is unable to attract, Sanders stated.
"I've remained open through this economic crisis hoping things would take a turn, but I just don't think this country is out of the woods yet," he said.
Sanders said he plans to spend much of his time in the kitchen at Bartlett's, his eatery in Beverly Shores. He also said there are "exciting" culinary opportunities in the works with his wife and fellow restaurateur, Nicole Bissonnette, owner of Valparaiso's Bistro 157.
"You may be surprised where else we pop up," he said.
The building that houses Miller Bakery Cafe served local residents pastries and breads for 45 years until shutting its doors in 1986. A Chicago couple bought and renovated the building, establishing it as Miller Bakery Cafe in 1989.
Sanders was hired fresh out of culinary school, and he bought the restaurant two years later. He eventually expanded it with the purchase of a neighboring building in 2003.