Yvonne Warrick, Sharon Chichester, retiring from Canteen Lunch in the Alley after combined 50+ years

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - An emotional farewell Friday afternoon for two women who have become a part of the fabric at Ottumwa’s Canteen Lunch in the Alley. After more than 50 combined years, Yvonne Warrick and Sharon Chichester are retiring.

“Doing it for 31 years, that’s a long time,” said Warrick.

Warrick and Chichester are as much a part of Ottumwa as the Canteen itself. Both women were born and raised right in town and have been serving loose-meat sandwiches to the people of southeast Iowa since 1990 and 2000.

“I think it’s more reminiscent for the people. It takes them back to the past. I think they enjoy that. It’s been here what 85 years, 82 years. I think it reminds them of better days,” Warrick explained.

Yvonne and Sharon have made hundreds of memories in their time at Canteen. They both can remember watching the making of the 1993 movie, ‘The Woman Who Loved Elvis” starring Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold. A portion of that movie was shot right at Canteen Alley. While they’re thankful for those memories, they say it’s the people that they’re going to miss the most.

“The customers, the whole experience, the Canteen. Basically, you don’t stay somewhere as long as you do if you don’t like it,” Warrick said.

On Friday, they traded the sandwiches, milkshakes, and malts, for cake and a celebration of everything they’ve done for one of Ottumwa’s most iconic businesses.

“I’ve enjoyed all of the customers and the bosses. I’ll miss it,” Chichester finished.

As for what’s next, the two say they’ll still be around. They’ll fill in as needed for the Canteen, as they start a new chapter of their lives in retirement.

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