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'It's hard to walk away from': Beloved restaurant owner retiring after more than 50 years of working

Loretta's last day will be Dec. 4, but the Pine Street Café will remain open under new management after her retirement.

FERRYSBURG, Mich. — A well known figure in the Ferrysburg community is calling it a career this weekend. The owner of the Pine Street Café is retiring after 30 years at the restaurant and more than 50 years of working.

Loretta McLaughlin has always been driven. Half a century ago, her husband at the time owned a restaurant in Muskegon.

"I wanted to work and learn it," says McLaughlin. "Been doing it ever since."

The Pine Street Café opened in 1991. At that time, Loretta had already spent more than a decade working in restaurants.

"First one was in '68, that was called the Ship's Rail," she says. "The second one was Wagon Wheel."

She opened the Pine Street Café for a simple reason: She loved the work.

"If you don't like something in your life that you're doing, then it's not worth it," says McLaughlin.

Today, three generations of her family work at the restaurant, including her son and granddaughter.

"She loves every bit of it," says Erica McLaughlin, Loretta's granddaughter. "She's cherished every bit of it."

They've enjoyed watching her work through the years.

"Mom's a fierce woman," says Loretta's son, Todd. "Strong, driven, very driven woman."

And Loretta has enjoyed her customers.

"I love the children that have come through the door," she says. "There's so many smiles and attitudes and happiness that shines through with these kids that I enjoy."

So why is she calling it a career now?

"Age," she laughs. "I'm 81."

But mostly, she just wants to see more of her family.

"My grandchildren, great-grandchildren, they've taken a backseat," says McLaughlin.

When she leaves for the last time, Loretta says she'll hold her head high, proud of the employees she mentored.

"I am fussy and I will ride you hard," she says. "But you'll walk out the door knowing what a job is supposed to be."

Even still, she says it will be a bittersweet moment.

"It's hard to walk away from," says McLaughlin.

Loretta's last day will be this Sunday, Dec. 4, but the Pine Street Café will remain open under new management after her retirement.

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