BOOTHBAY HARBOR — She sat in the back booth, in a seat that offered a wide-angle view of the whole restaurant, in a seat her husband had occupied for many years.

Cindy and Paul Geddry were regulars at Ebb Tide, a hole-in-the-wall among the seasonal shops and bed-and-breakfasts along Commercial Street, a narrow one-way route that offers glimpses of sailboats and fishing vessels moored in the harbor.

“We first came in 1990 when we were on vacation,” she said. “And when we retired and moved up to Maine for good, this was our place.”

Cindy Geddry enjoyed her last meal at Ebb Tide on Thursday morning.

After 40 years of dutiful operation by husband-and-wife team Peter and Nancy Gilchrist, the restaurant closed its doors.

The Gilchrists, who are in their late 60s, decided to close because they want time to do other things before they get too old. They haven’t decided whether to sell the building or lease it.

They said the decision to shut the doors was difficult, not just because the restaurant has been their life’s anchor for so long, but because of loyal patrons like Cindy Geddry who have kept them in business.

“It’s familiar to us, too,” Peter said Thursday before the lunch rush. “We never knew how we’d be received when we moved here 40 years ago and opened this place. But it’s exceeded any expectations we had.”

Geddry, like many other locals who dined one last time Thursday, said she doesn’t know what her life will be like after the doors close, the red-and-white awning out front is taken down and the original wooden booths are sold at auction. Sure, there are other restaurants and gathering places in town, but not like Ebb Tide.

Geddry took it hard when her husband died in 2010, but she found comfort in familiar things, like family and friends and the little booth in the little restaurant in their little seaside town.

“I came in shortly after Paul died, and on every table there was a flag for Paul (who was a veteran). And there was a sign and a framed picture of him on the wall in remembrance,” she said. “It was just amazing.”

She continued to dine there regularly after he died and always sat in his favorite seat if it was free.

For Geddry it became more than a restaurant, more than just a place where she could eat and chat with locals. It came to represent Paul and the life they shared. The employees, many of whom have decades of service, became like family members.

Other patrons said the same thing: Yes, the food was good – reliable, reasonably priced comfort food offered without frilly presentation. The signature dishes were turkey dinner and peach shortcake for dessert. On Thursday, patrons even got to pay the original prices from 40 years ago – $3.55 for turkey, 75 cents for dessert.

But more than the food, customers said, Ebb Tide seemed to personify the town itself: hard-working, close-knit and familiar.

Stuart Bennett has been coming for decades. He remembers working on a tour boat in Boothbay Harbor as a teen. He often was hungry when his shift ended, and Ebb Tide was the closest restaurant to the harbor.

Bennett later moved to Connecticut, where he was a professor for many years. But he now owns seasonal property in Boothbay Harbor and spends part of the year there. He said it’s sad to see the restaurant close because it captures the town as it really is, not just how it looks to the thousands of tourists that visit each summer.

Asked whether he has any fond memories, Bennett looked around and spotted his waitress.

“Yeah, Rose, she’s a fond memory,” he said.

Rose Marie Hodgdon has been waiting tables at Ebb Tide since 1978. She’s warm and welcoming and, like the restaurant itself, completely without pretension.

On Thursday, as she glided over the narrow lanes between booths and chatted effortlessly with customers she knows by first name, Hodgdon always had a smile, but there was an air of sadness.

“I’ve been pleasantly comfortable here,” she said. “It’s a little scary thinking about finding something else to do.”

The Gilchrists said they have been thinking about closing for a while now. They settled on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. because it’s exactly 40 years from when they signed the papers to buy the restaurant from the previous owners.

Peter and Nancy were in their late 20s when they dropped everything and moved from San Francisco to Maine on a whim. Peter said he was working 80 to 100 hours a week as a government contractor and was worried the job might kill him, literally. So he gave it up and they moved across the country.

The couple arrived in Boothbay Harbor in a 24-foot U-Haul truck pulling an AMC Pacer. They had no restaurant experience.

“That first day, all the pancakes stuck to the grill,” Peter said, laughing at the memory. Back then, you could get a stack of pancakes for 95 cents.

But the couple got better at it. They hired some cooks and waitresses and things fell into place.

Peter had his duties and Nancy had hers, developing a rhythm they perfected over four decades. They found time to raise a son and daughter, too.

They still often worked 80 hours or more a week – the restaurant was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner all seven days – but they were never stressed.

One of the reasons they decided to close, Nancy said, was because they didn’t want to be in a position where one of them might have to stop working because of health reasons. They were a team. The restaurant could operate only if Peter and Nancy were there in tandem.

“Really, it’s probably a stupid idea because we had a really good year,” Peter said. “But it’s time.”

Nancy said the restaurant’s closure has yet to hit her. Even after the final dinner crowd Thursday, there would be several days of cleaning. Then they’ll decide whether to sell the space outright or lease it.

But at some point, Nancy said, she’ll take stock of the past 40 years and revel in the memories of Ebb Tide.

Cindy Geddry will keep her memories, too, even if she can never again sit in the booth she used to share with her husband.

She’ll remember the restaurant as a place of comfort, in good times and bad. She’ll remember her favorite meal, the meatloaf, and her husband’s favorite, chicken a la king. And she’ll remember the community of people that formed Ebb Tide’s warm center.

“It’s become such a ritual for me, coming here,” she said. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”