Steve Skouras scanned the bones of a building where he built his business for 37 years.
"This will all be gone soon," he said.
Several 50-pound bags of potatoes were waiting to be picked up by a produce service - remnants of what didn't get used during his last weekend of ownership at South York Diner - and boxes were being packed at the York Township restaurant.
"This (table) used to be piled with dozens and dozens of bags of potatoes, just to get through a week," he said.
But customer demand trickled off during the last two years - a fact he blames on the economic downturn.
It's been all the nudge he's needed to sell the business to family and retire at 65 years old.
He first discussed selling at the end of last year, but the diner didn't change hands until Friday when he sold it to his nephews Themi and Chris Sacarellos and brother-in-law Bill Costarellos, he said. Themi Sacarellos, a property developer and owner of Round the Clock Diner who recently announced a bid to buy a post office in York City, declined comment.
"I'm happy that it stays in the family," Skouras said.
Skouras first opened the business with family on Sept. 13, 1975, but it was Donut Delite back then. He, along with three brothers and a brother-in-law, then expanded it to a restaurant in 1980.
And, in 2000, the South York Diner was remodeled, but it's not the bricks and mortar that Skouras will miss.
"The employees ... we're like a family," he said, blinking quickly to push tears away. "I got married while I had this place. I had kids while I had this place. My grandkids were born while I had this place," he said.
South York Diner, to Skouras, has been an inanimate, yet very tangible, part of his family and life story, he said. He's been devoted to it daily and hasn't had a vacation since early 2001.
"I can use a day off, but it will be different to not be working," he said.
Retirement will afford him the opportunity to go fishing, work on his garden and travel to Florida, he said.
But Skouras said he will mostly fill his time with his twin granddaughters and grandson, who call him Papou - the Greek word for grandfather.
He recalled taking them to the diner with him, watching them regale customers with song and dance, pretending to clean and tend to the restaurant like grown-ups, he said.
"This has been a second home for our family and the customers, and I just want to say how thankful I am," he said.
- Candy Woodall can also be reached at email@example.com.