The Humpty’s restaurant near Crossfield, which has graced the east side of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway for more than a quarter-century, is set to serve its final customers and close its doors for good on Feb. 27.
According to Penny Hof, the restaurant’s manager, the reason for the business’ upcoming closure was a breakdown in lease negotiations between the Humpty’s owners and their landlord, 7-Eleven.
“It resulted in some negotiations back and forth, and they just decided they weren’t going to renew our lease,” she said. “Without [owning] the land underneath, we can’t very well stay.”
Hof said the Humpty’s has operated across the highway since 1995 or 1996.
She added the restaurant has never owned the land it’s situated on, instead operating under lease agreements – first under the original owner Imperial Oil, and then 7-Eleven after the land was sold.
The land was initially contaminated when it was owned by Imperial Oil, according to Hof, who said 7-Eleven purchased it from the oil and gas company after the remediation was completed.
“They gave them a long lease on it. Things transpired, we ended up with the building, and we’ve been running since 1995 or something like that,” she said.
While Hof said she wasn’t privy to the lease negotiations between Humpty's and 7-Eleven, she has a feeling the COVID-19 pandemic played a part in the restaurant's demise.
“On our end, we’re very sad, but at the same time, COVID has caused us to lose money for most of the [pandemic],” she said. “Every time we get started and going again, the government shuts us down for another COVID reason.
“It’s been a long haul, and I’m sure it was a consideration for the owners whether to close or not on many times along the way.”
Crossfield residents have responded with disappointment at news of the Humpty’s impending closure, according to Hof. She said the restaurant has been involved in the community throughout its 25-plus-year tenure along the highway, sponsoring and supporting local community events like Pete Knight Days and demolition derby, as well as school programs and sports teams.
“A lot of our customers have been coming here since either they were kids, or they worked here, or we have seniors who have been coming here forever,” she said. “A lot of their issue with it is, it’s just one more thing taken away by COVID.”
Among those who is disappointed to see the restaurant go is Crossfield Mayor Kim Harris, who said the business was a mainstay in the community and provided steady employment for many locals, including teenagers for whom it was their first job.
“I feel sad that a local Crossfield owner is unable to continue with her business,” Harris said in an email.
“I don't know what is going to go into the Humpty's location, but I hope that it serves Crossfield as well as Humpty's did. Humptys created a fantastic gathering spot for locals and families over the years and has given Crossfieldians some great memories.”
Neither 7-Eleven nor Humpty's corporate head offices responded to a request for comment, as of press time.