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After nearly 70 years, Maid-Rite in La Crosse closed for good Tuesday

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North-side business first opened in 1947

A flurry of customers packed the Maid-Rite cafe Tuesday, as word spread it was closing for good.

Customers came and went Tuesday – as did the staff. While the diner’s 84-year-old owner, Dick Bielke (right), was busy behind the counter mixing and cooking the loose meat filling and staffers had to run to nearby stores for more ground beef and buns as customers kept pouring in for one last sandwich. 

“I’ve been here 21 and a half years waitressing,” Sue Hofer said, as she waited on customers. “It’s been a great part of my life. A part I’d do all over again.”

The Maid-Rite had been open in La Crosse for nearly 70 years. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, it closed for business one last time.

People were lined up out the door, while other customers came to get take-out orders.

The Maid-Rite is located next to another long-time La Crosse store, which is still in business – the Sweet Shop, which opened 95 years ago.  

A newer Maid-Rite store opened a few years ago in Onalaska, but it didn’t last very long.

Besides the loose meat sandwiches and the waffle fries, the north-side Maid-Rite was also known for having a large collection of railroad photos and memorabilia.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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