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Owners of 100-Year-Old Alameda Diner Spent $400k of Their Own Money to Avoid Layoffs

Also: A NorCal restaurant under fire for sign discouraging face masks, and more news to start your day

Ole’s Waffle Shop at night
Ole’s Waffle Shop

Ole’s Waffle Shop, a nearly 100-year-old Alameda institution, hasn’t laid anyone off since the start of the pandemic

Today in heartbreaking/heartwarming coronavirus-related news: The owners of Ole’s, the classic Alamada diner, have reportedly spent $400,000 of their own money — selling their retirement home in the process — in order to retain all 41 of their employees throughout the pandemic, the Bay Area News Group reports.

The COVID-19 shutdown has been especially tough for small family-run operations like Ole’s — just this past week has seen the shutdown of longtime San Francisco institutions like Art’s Cafe and Louis’, for instance. But despite losing 85 percent of their revenue, and burning through their federal stimulus loan in two months, Ole’s owners Ken and Vickie Moniz — who also run an affiliated restaurant, Wine & Waffles, next door — tell BANG that they couldn’t bear to furlough or lay off any of their employees. Instead, they sold the plot of land in San Rafael they’d planned to retire to next year and dug into their personal savings.

“I can’t ask them to leave and sit here and say we’re going to save our money and take care of ourselves because we didn’t build this business on our own,” Ken Moniz told KRON-4.

The restaurant is currently open for both takeout and outdoor dining.

And in other news...

  • Apple Bistro — a restaurant in Placerville, CA, east of Sacramento — is facing backlash for allegedly refusing service to customers who were wearing face masks. At the very least, the restaurant appears to have posted a sign in front saying that “oxygen deprivation masks” are “not required here.” Facing a possible loss of its license, the restaurant now denies that it ever had a no-mask policy. [CBS13]
  • After reopening for a little over a month’s worth of takeout service, the 157-year-old Cliff House restaurant is shutting things down entirely once again, effective as of yesterday, July 20 — at least until some form of dine-in service is allowed in San Francisco. “Because of economic pressure during this unprecedented situation we have concluded that it would be best to preserve our remaining resources to ensure a continuance of future operations,” owners Dan and Mary Hountalas wrote in a Facebook post announcing the news. [KRON4]
  • The long-awaited, much-delayed return of Tosca Cafe continues apace: After ending a short-lived takeout operation, its owners — Anna Weinberg (Marlowe, etc.), chef Nancy Oakes (Boulevard), and designer Ken Fulk — have launched a new pop-up iteration of the restaurant outside the St. Joseph’s Arts Society (a former cathedral that Fulk redesigned) in SoMa. It’s taking reservations for family-style outdoor Italian dinners three nights a week. [SFC]
  • Current and former Whole Foods employees, including at least one who worked at a store in Berkeley, have filed a lawsuit claiming that the company’s policy against workers wearing Black Lives Matter face masks and apparel is a civil rights violation. [Berkeleyside]
  • Once met with great resistance, food delivery robots continue to see a coronavirus-spurred renaissance, as customers embrace various forms of no-contact delivery. The latest news: Kiwibot, one of the most prominent delivery bot companies, has now expanded to San Jose. [SF Gate]
  • The 33-year-old Cupertino location of Hobee’s, a local chain known for its blueberry coffee cake, has called it quits, in part due to coronavirus-related losses. [BANG]
  • SF Gate reports that some ice cream trucks and shaved ice trucks are pivoting to home delivery during the pandemic: “Parents are [calling us] as surprises for the kids, and it’s awesome to pull up to a house and see the kids come running outside,” one shaved ice vendor says. [SF Gate]
  • Berkeleyside has a nice profile of Nuttin’ Butter Cookies, a cottage food business currently selling an assortment of nut butter cookies — including a Jif-based family recipe for peanut butter cookies that goes back 170 years — in front of the proprietor’s home in Berkeley. [Berkeleyside]

Tosca Cafe

242 Columbus Avenue, , CA 94133 (415) 986-9651 Visit Website

Ole's Waffle Shop

1507 Park Street, , CA 94501 (510) 522-8108 Visit Website