BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — Customers and staffers at a Buffalo Grove restaurant are grieving over the death of a waitress who was more like a mother to all of them.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Shirley Gibson was the first employee that Pete Panayiotou, owner of the Continental Restaurant at 788 S. Buffalo Grove Rd., hired when he opened the eatery in 1995.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Gibson was a single mother who had gone to school to become a legal secretary, but quickly returned to waitressing because she missed the personal connection.

Every morning at the crack of dawn, Gibson would greet diners with a big smile and a steaming pot of coffee.

Her fellow waitress, Natalie Katz, said Gibson was like a second mother.

“She always cared so much about everybody,” Katz said. “She’d always go out of her way and give people gifts, and try to make them special for their birthdays.”

She could always be counted on for advice, Katz said.

“I guess it goes back to her going out of her way to make us all happy, and make sure we’re doing well,” Katz said.

In August, Gibson collapsed at work, and died on Friday after a difficult illness. Everyone at the Continental was heartbroken.

Gibson’s ashes will be buried on Thursday, which would have been her 61st birthday.

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