SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A well-known member of the Springfield restaurant community has died.

Rudi Scherff, the longtime owner of the Student Prince and The Fort in downtown Springfield has passed away, the restaurant announced in a Facebook posting.

Scherff’s father purchased the German eatery on Fort Street back in the 1940s, and it remained in the family until the restaurant closed briefly in 2014. The restaurant was purchased by a local group headed by Peter Pan Bus company owner, Peter Picknelly Jr., who shared some of his memories of Rudi with 22News.

“Rudi was a great guy, a special icon, and I dearly miss him. He was a good friend, and a good business partner. I was so glad the last several years of my life working with him at the Student Prince restaurant. Rudi had a very special quality. Rudi made everyone who came into the restaurant feel like home.

Even under new ownership, Scherff remained involved, staying on as general manager of the remodeled restaurant.

A posting on the Student Prince’s Facebook page reads in part:

“Rudi was a man loved by all, his smile lit up the room, and his stories of Springfield and the Fort made you feel like you were part of the family. Please continue to keep Rudi and the Scherff family in your thoughts.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno sent 22News the following statement, “First of all, my sympathy, thoughts, prayers, and encouragement go out to Rudi’s family, friends, and patrons of the historic and legendary Student Prince Fort Restaurant. Rudi was one of a kind, hardworking, eclectic, and that dry sense of humor. He was so dedicated to the Fort and his Dad’s legacy, and with help, keeping the Fort a fixture in our City of Springfield’s lore. So now he’s not suffering anymore and is up in heaven with his Dad and Andy Yee toasting with a stein of beer. May God rest his soul.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. 22News will pass that information along as soon as we get it.