Foodies in the East Bay are saying farewell to another beloved institution as Bette’s Oceanview Diner served its last meal on Sunday.
Before 4th Street in Berkeley became the bustling shopping center it is today, there was Bette’s Oceanview Diner that opened nearly 40 years ago. Nothing too high-brow on the menu. It was mostly diner staples like pancakes, eggs, and shakes.
But patrons said it was the ambiance and the quality of the food that made standing in a long line for a table worth the wait.
“The potato, pancakes. It took 20 minutes longer to make but my wife and I liked those quite a bit,” said Berkeley resident Richard L.
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Bruce Mace lives in Sacramento but every time he visited the Bay Area, he made sure to swing by Bette’s Oceanview Diner.
“I miss the whole atmosphere in there,” he said.
Back in 2005, Thomas Deckert worked here as a waiter and worked alongside the owners, Bette and Manfred Kroening.
“It was awesome, really fast-paced, you’re constantly juggling 10 things,” he said.
But Deckert said there were plenty of rewards – including good pay, benefits and a welcoming environment.
“We shared tips, from the front of the house to the back of the house, it was really like a family,” he said.
After Bette passed away in 2017, all the responsibilities fell on the shoulders of her husband, Manfred Kroening....and then, came the pandemic.
“Adjusting to the covid, disinfecting and masks, indoor, outdoor, indoor,” he said. “2 years of worrying, adjusting, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Kroening is 68 and had hopes of retiring once the restaurant’s lease ended this summer. But it was the staffing problems made worse by the Omicron surge that forced him to close the restaurant for good last Sunday.
“It was just impossible. I couldn’t fill the schedule,” he added.
Kroening told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that he’s grateful for the diner’s devoted customers but he’s also thankful for the much-needed break.
“I look forward not to have that pressure but I’m going to miss that place a lot. It was the coolest place,” he said.