Butler County Times Gazette
  • Miller's Five - no easy goodbye

  • The local iconic drive-in restaurant at Augusta's U-turn corner represented good food and happy times.
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  • When news spread last Friday morning that Miller's Five would be closing it's doors on Sunday, Augusta reacted.
    The local iconic drive-in restaurant at Augusta's U-turn corner represented good food and happy times.
    Thursday night Judy made the decision to close on Sunday. After being in business for over 49 years the decision wasn't easy - but necessary.
    "I wasn't expecting that kind of response. People stood in line for an hour and half on Saturday in the rain! It wore my kids out. They took turns cooking," Judy Miller shared.
    The mother of three and active community supporter is currently fighting liver and lung cancer. She wasn't given much hope by her doctors, but continues to take chemotherapy treatments. Judy is in charge of her medical decisions.
    "I'm not ready to go. I've still got a lot of years to live. I'm only 66. I'm not gonna lay down and die. I just can't handle the business. I haven't been around much the past two months. God has a different plan for me."
    The three years since the death of her husband, Lee, have been difficult. She feels fortunate, however, to have her children, Tearie, Kevin and Melissa and their families close by, and her sister Lawanna, who lives with her.
    She looked around the building where she has spent almost 50 years preparing and selling some of the best food around - including those famous burgers and popular cherry limeades.
    "Lee loved this place. He was here every morning at 8:30 and stayed until closing. I wasn't quite so dedicated."
    The Millers purchased the business from Jake and Reba Palmer, and Judy credits them for sharing recipes.
    "We've stuck with their recipes, just added some things. Not everything is better by changing it. I've tried about every hamburger joint around and none of them taste as good. We may have charged a little more, but ours tasted better."
    Judy is quick to explain that with a "Mom and Pop" business, the owners have to dedicate lots of time to the operation, "You just can't leave it to someone else to run. For the first 25 years, Lee and I never went anywhere together. It's just time for someone else, someone younger to carry on."
    Both Judy and Lee grew up here, their lives and their children's lives woven into the rich tapestry of the community. They're indeed a part of Augusta's story.
    "I don't know any other place - it was a good place to raise kids. Augusta changed once Mobil left. Some good, some bad, but for the most part, I've always enjoyed Augusta."
    Judy and Lee gave back to their hometown. They sponsored baseball teams, they dedicated lots of time to Ignite Augusta's Christmas lights in Garvin Park, and served in the Lions Club for years. Their customers remember the large donation jars that sat on the counters. The coins collected in those jars added up to a lot of help for local groups and organizations.
    Page 2 of 2 - A warm feeling for many residents on the dark days immediately following the devastating flood in 1998 was seeing the "Open" sign in Miller's Five window. Lee and Judy were serving up chili and turkey sandwiches -- making sure people had something to eat.
    Judy was also active in helping start and continue support for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in Augusta. She always served on the planning committee for the event and the Millers donated lots and lots of hamburgers each year.
    She knows that Augusta will miss Miller's Five, "I appreciated their business the last 49 years. If I could do it, I'd still be here," she added softly, "It's sad. It's just so sad. But it's been long enough."
    Still with optimism shining through her easy smile, she shared a secret, "You know, I don't even like cherry limeades!"
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