HAYWARD — There’s a phone booth near the front door, farm equipment, lanterns, mounted antlers, rusty tools and plenty of other odds and ends inside The Hayward Ranch that leave no doubt the bar and restaurant has been around 71 years.
But what really fills the place is the warmth of customers, many of whom consider the downtown fixture a second home.
Now they are grappling with the news that it will close for good on New Year’s Eve.
“Terrible. Terrible that it’s happening,” said Jerry Lecatsas, 72, of Hayward, a patron since 1967.
His friend, Michael Streets, 66, of San Leandro, is equally crushed.
“Everyone is going to miss this place,” Streets said after having lunch with Lecatsas. “It’s going to be sad.”
For breakfast, there’s biscuits and gravy ($6.95), while lunch offerings include a nod to Hayward’s Portuguese heritage with a linguica sandwich ($10.95).
The dinner menu has the now rarely available liver and onions ($14.95), with bacon added for an extra buck.
Leonard Perolo once owned 27 Ranch restaurants around the East Bay, including in Pleasanton, Dublin and other spots.
The Hayward restaurant on Mission Boulevard — with its neon sign topped by a plastic bull’s head on the restaurant’s roof — is the only one remaining.
It was built with wood pilfered from a train trestle near Sacramento, legend has it.
Rumor also has it that the Ranch was the spot where politicians and merchants gathered when they wanted to cut a quiet deal, out of the public eye.
“A lot of business went through this place,” said Jack Del Rio, the father of the former Oakland Raiders head coach who sports the same name.
Del Rio stopped in with Rudy Grasseschi, 83, the patriarch of Cobblers, the famly-run footwear shop on nearby Foothill Boulevard.
The two men were coming from a funeral.
Del Rio said he has known regular customers who ran a tab for meals at the Ranch, much like some people do at a bar.
“When they felt like paying the bill, they paid it,” he said.
The decision to close was not easy, said Katerina Sarantakis, whose family has owned the Ranch since 1998, when her father, Christo Sarantakis, purchased the business from Perolo, the founder of the chain.
The family thinks the owner of the property on which the restaurant sits may want to redevelop the site because the neighborhood is zoned as multi-use.
And with the business on a month-to-month lease and no one in the family willing to keep the restaurant going, the family decided to close, Sarantakis said.
“It’s really a shame, because there’s a lot of history here,” she said. “We all worked here growing up. Birthday parties, celebrations, our family basically lived here.”
She added: “It’s been a labor of love, definitely.”
About 20 people will lose their jobs when the Ranch closes.
Busboy Steve Lima has worked at the restaurant 12 years, hired just after his family and friends threw a party for him at the Ranch when he graduated from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo.
Tierney Villalobos, a server and bartender, said she will move to Washington state to be closer to her family after the business closes.
Rents here are too high to stay, Villalobos said. She has worked at the Ranch five years.
“This is my extra boost to leave,” Villalobos said of the restaurant’s closing.
Brandi Gomes, a server for 12 years, is not sure what she will do next.
“It will be a new chapter in my life,” Gomes said. “The customers here are really great. Everyone always has a smile; I will really miss them. Sometimes I even come in here on my days off just to relax. It’s that kind of place.”
Source: Thanks https://www.mercurynews.com/legendary-east-bay-restaurant-to-close