FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — After nearly two decades in business, a Stephenson County coffee shop will close its doors. The owner tells us the struggles of the pandemic combined with a lack of employees created the perfect storm for closing.

Customers say the staple will be missed. Every town has restaurants or shops where residents go to socialize. Higher Grounds Coffee is one of those places. One customer says everything about this coffee shop will truly be missed.

“I cried. I mean lots of people will. She’s amazing,” said Jane Morse.

After 17 years in business, Higher Grounds Coffee in Freeport is serving its last cup of joe. Janey Morse has been coming in here since it first opened. She says the friendly environment has always made it an enjoyable experience.

“Knowing one another, again covers friendship. The quality is perfect. It’s a family that’s here, and no matter, the kids you know them, they know your names, you know where they’re going to school. It’s just, just very special,” Morse said.

Cynthia Faulkner opened Higher Grounds in 2004 with one goal in mind–to create a friendly and welcoming environment.

“17 years is a good run. I feel like I achieved what I set out to do and I was hoping to bring the community something and I hoped that they would appreciate it and I really think that they have. So, that’s really gratifying and really meaningful,” Faulkner explained.

Faulkner said the widespread shortage of help is just one reason she decided to close. She shared a message for entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own businesses.

“It just takes some tenacity and determination. Whatever problems come up you’ll, you’ll tough it out and you’ll solve those problems and you’ll learn and grow from them. I think that’s kind of a mindset that you need to pull through and you don’t get frustrated and throw up the towel and push through,” Faulkner said.

The last day for Higher Grounds is June 26. Faulkner tells us her next chapter will include spending much more time with her grandkids.