Just a day after we shared the news of Big 5 Sporting Goods closing, we pass along the sad news that Thompson's Kountry Fried Chicken is now closed.

The giant bucket of chicken marking Thompson's KFC on North 1st Street stands on the edge of an empty parking lot. Customers are turned away by a darkened "open" sign and a simple note taped to the front door:

Thank you for 9 years of patronage.

We are sorry, but it has come to a time we have to close.

Dave Wheaton

The only explanation came on my voicemail this morning from owner Joe Thompson, simply stating, "Unfortunately we ran into a lot of problems, and we had to close our doors".

Thompson's was one of my favorite places to go on nights that I was given the job of bringing home dinner for the family. When my parents came to visit from Michigan, it was the first place they ate in Abilene. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to get to know Joe Thompson a little, and he has been nothing but kind to me. When we were looking to feed the staff of volunteers for the Hendrick Hospice Radio-thon in December, they gladly fed everyone in the building.

Now, without warning, it's gone. As the news has traveled throughout my workplace, the reaction is that of surprise, sadness, and a lot of comments like "I wish I'd made it in there one more time". We'll all find other restaurants to get our lunch from, but I doubt there will ever be a replacement. I'm sure my coworkers and I will be talking about our fondness of Thompson's KFC for a long time to come.

We wish Joe, his wife and his family all the best, along with the employees that counted on Thompson's KFC as a place of employment. I will miss the food they served, but my thoughts and prayers are with them.

Now who has the best fried chicken in Abilene?