Wicked Good Eats closed its doors for the last time Dec. 9, five months to the day it opened.

“Small businesses rely on local community support,” said owner Patrick Key. “We really appreciate the regular customers who were loyal. We were the third or fourth small business that didn’t make it in that location.” The roadside restaurant was located near 118th Street on State Route 302, between Wauna and Key Center.

“It is cost-prohibitive and the business climate in Washington made it hard for us,” Key said. “It was a learning experience and a bonding experience for my family, my son-in-law and daughters.”

Key’s wife, Michele, had serious medical issues that she continues to fight. Trying to keep the restaurant open “was causing additional stress that we didn’t need,” Key said. He returned in late summer from a deployment with the U.S. Navy, where he has served for 23 years.

His daughter, Danyale Morado, posted on Facebook: “Despite our best efforts to expand our customer base, we are no longer able to support the business financially. We are … needing to spend more time together as we continue the fight against Shelly’s lymphoma. We want to thank those customers who went out of their way to support us. You have no idea how much we have enjoyed getting to know you and how much we enjoyed seeing you come through our doors.”

“If you care about small businesses, stay away from franchises,” Key said. “The experience of interacting with members of your community is what you’re paying for (in a locally owned establishment). You can’t expect discounts like franchises can offer.”