ROANOKE - The father in a local father-son restaurant partnership died in a traffic accident Monday morning in rural Woodford County near Roanoke.
Shefki Emini, 70, of the 200 block of North Fayette Street in El Paso, was a fixture at The Range restaurant on the outskirts of El Paso. He and his son, Basri "Boz" Emini, owned the restaurant and The Park, which is on Bloomington's southeast side.
Boz Emini said he lost more than his father and business partner.
"I lost my best friend today," he said.
Emini was pronounced dead about 10 a.m. on Illinois 116 just east of the intersection with Illinois 117, according to information from Woodford County Coroner Tim Ruestman. It appears Emini was making a U-turn on Illinois 116 to go east when his Ford Taurus was struck by a semitrailer truck going west.
Ruestman said Emini was heading west, and had pulled his car over when he ran out of gas. After getting more fuel, Emini started turning his car around to head east and his car was sideways in the road when struck by the semi.
The driver of the semi, Corey Nobis of Missouri, was not injured in the crash, Ruestman said. His age and home town were not immediately available.
Michael Schuette, who has worked at The Range, said all the employees at the El Paso restaurant knew Emini well.
He described the 70-year-old as an outgoing man who talked with customers at the bar, danced with employees when business was slow and would go to great lengths to help employees if they needed it.
"He cared more about this place than pretty much anybody else," Schuette said. "He was here, rain or shine, every day, whether he was sick or tired. He was good to all of us, too."
Schuette recalled that on Father's Day a few restaurant employees ran to a dollar store across the street from the restaurant and bought for Emini a large stuffed animal - a duck that made a quacking noise.
"He would run around the restaurant, hitting every employee with it," Schuette said with a laugh. "And he would wear it around his neck."
Schuette said Emini was like a member of the family for him and numerous other employees.
Reporter Steve Arney contributed to this story.