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Manlius: Where's the Beef?

Nancy Pfeiffer's first job at What's Your Beef was in 1999, cooking cabbage and carrots on St. Patrick's Day. In December 2000, she bought the restaurant from its owner Ray Moran, whose family opened the establishment in 1966. Forty-two years later, the popular gathering place is closed. Why?

"I have a lot of good opportunities in my life right now," Pfeiffer said, naming the arrival of her first grandchild due in June as one. Rising food costs and a drop in business, however, were listed as other, less celebratory factors.

"We've been looking at it for awhile," she said, mentioning how the restaurant took a huge hit two years ago due to road construction. "Restaurant business is never an easy business."

Pfeiffer should know. She's worked in the food industry since she was 15 years old, beginning with Buzzy's Diner, another locally-owned family business that's no more.

Asked what she'll miss most, Pfeiffer said her staff.

"We had really become a family," she said, whose diverse mix included numerous high school kids over the years. "I was blessed with the fact that I never ran an employment ad the whole time I was there."

Pfeiffer officially closed the restaurant on Feb. 23 but didn't hand over the keys until Feb. 29.

"Members of my staff were there everyday," she said. "They came and they cleaned and they packed and they cleaned and they cleaned," she said, laughing. "I know I'll continue to hear from a lot of them all the time."

Pfeiffer remembered good times with customers, too, sharing momentous occasions such as baby and bridal showers with so many families.

"We were an emotional center, there's no question," she said. "All the good things that happen in your life; all the bad things that happen in your life -- you go somewhere to mourn and to celebrate them, whatever it is."

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