OGDEN -- Verla Hasler waited patiently with the hungry crowd of three dozen or so, all hoping for a seat at Uncle Leo's Utah Noodle Parlor, and one last taste of a happy memory.
"When I heard it was closing, I had to come one last time," said Hasler, of Sunset.
"This was the coolest place to go on a date when I was a teenager back in the 1960s, and it was back on Grant Street. We'd come down from Morgan, and there was always a line, but it was always worth the wait. This was just where everyone went. This was it."
After 60 years -- the restaurant first opened on Grant Avenue in the '40s and then moved to Washington Boulevard in the '70s -- the Utah Noodle Parlor plans to close its doors Saturday.
Hasler came for nostalgia and her favorite menu item, shrimp with a dinner salad, "but the sweet-and-sour pork is a close second," she said. "I am so sorry they are leaving."
Patron Randy Wagner has childhood memories of the Grant Avenue location.
"My mom and dad used to take me when I was a little boy," said Wagner, 58, from West Point. "The butterfly fried shrimp is the best. They do it like nowhere else. It used to be a big place for family gatherings. The look of the place hasn't changed for 30 years, but I'm here for the food. I'm going to miss it."
Leo Iseki bought the restaurant from his aunt after he served as an Army cook in World War II. He and wife, Mamiyo, worked hard, staffing the business with family and with friends who soon became like family. The Isekis had no children, but raised Leo's niece and two nephews, who grew up with the family business.
"Most of the family is on the older side now, and we decided not to keep it running," said Mark Sakashita, 56, one of the Iseki nephews, who has run the Noodle Parlor for the past two years. His older sister, Jean S. Peterson, managed the business for a decade before that, and older brother Mike Sakashita also put in his time.
Leo Iseki died in 1990. Owner Mamiyo Iseki, 87, is in assisted living in Clinton. Among the Sakashitas, Mark has spinal problems and limited movement, and is in assisted living when he is not working. Mike is battling cancer, and Jean is not interested in returning to restaurant management.
Mark Sakashita said the family let its patrons know during the summer that the restaurant would close Sept. 29. The past few weeks have been crazy, with more and more people trying to get in before the deadline. The restaurant has had to put out its closed sign early some evenings when the amount of food available simply wasn't enough for the growing throng.
"Uncle Leo was the most giving individual, who didn't need recognition, that I've ever known," said Julienne Rhees, of Farr West, who worked for Iseki for 28 years, primarily as a bookkeeper. "His family was in internment during World War II, but he always loved America. He was a big supporter of Weber State College, and he would do a lot for the little girls who came by looking for support to be in a pageant. He gave away 200 free meals a month. He was always generous with the community.
"He and Mamiyo were here at 6 a.m. and home at 11 p.m. every day, and they came in Mondays, when they were closed, to do prep work. They lived for this place, and they made it what it is."
Rhees said she has seen the Utah Noodle Parlor mentioned in several books, including LDS novels.
"I would like to see Leo remembered as a community supporter," she said. "He was a Buddhist, but he was the most Christian man I have ever met."
Rhees said her children were raised on Utah Noodles, and when she told her family the restaurant was closing, everyone wanted to go in one more time. With extended family, the group totalled 17.
Mark Sakashita, who was away while he served in the Navy, remembers his uncle as a disciplined perfectionist.
"When you work with your family it is a lot of responsibility," he said. "Leo put out a lot of effort to make sure it was done the way he wanted it to be done."
Growing up, Mark Sakashita worked in the kitchen, and was proud the restaurant was well-regarded by his school friends.
"Everybody knew the Utah Noodle Parlor," he said. "You always remember the nice things people say."
In the Internet age, reviews became more mixed.
"It was rough to read them," Mark Sakashita said. "Some give us praise and some don't. You can never please everybody."
Mark Sakashita said, with the restaurant closed he hopes to take more physical therapy and improve his range of movement. He would like to find work again, he said. But he will miss his restaurant friends.
"It's hard to let it go. A lot of people have been with us so long. And a lot of friends Leo accumulated over the years come in and still want to keep in touch."
But it's time to close the doors, Mamiyo Iseki said.
"I just (decided to) close it because it had to be closed," she said. "My husband is gone. My family has taken care of it, but I just figure, well, it's time for it to close."
It's the passing of another iconic Ogden business, but the memories will remain.
The closing of Uncle Leo's Utah Noodle Parlor does leave some younger patrons in the lurch.
"I've come here since I can remember," said Ryan Wagner, 27, Roy. "It was always a good place to bring a first date. Now I will have to find a new place. It was a good place to test whether my dates had good taste. And if she didn't like Chinese food, I knew I could never be with her."