Home » The Water Cooler – The “Celebration Restaurant” You Ate At When You Were A Child

The Water Cooler – The “Celebration Restaurant” You Ate At When You Were A Child


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

QUESTION: What was the “celebration restaurant” your family ate at when you were a child, and what is it now?


Talk about it….


DD December 27, 2022 - 12:08 PM - 12:08 PM

Petar’s (Concord) or Ruben’s Plankhouse.

Hanne Jeppesen December 28, 2022 - 12:49 PM - 12:49 PM

I use to go to Petar’s, but it was in Lafayette. Didn’t go for the food, but for the music. My late good platonic friend Rodney Walton, would get up on the stage and perform, I think the house musician was named Joanne, and Rodney could play the piano and sing as well, another friend George Hsieh would join us at times, also a talented musician and singer (does a great Elvis impression) fun times, miss them.

This_that December 27, 2022 - 12:21 PM - 12:21 PM

If there was an Olive Garden in Concord, we’d celebrate there.

NoMoreFreeeRide December 27, 2022 - 12:26 PM - 12:26 PM


Dawg December 27, 2022 - 12:33 PM - 12:33 PM

West Portal Joe’s, located near the entrance of the Twin Peaks tunnel at the corner of West Portal Ave and Ulloa St in San Francisco. It was the best Italian restaurant in the City, lots of good food at great prices. My mother, who was from the “old country,” and was very critical of Italian restaurants, loved the place. Everything was made fresh, they made their own sauces, and they actually tossed the pizza dough by hand. Today it’s still a restaurant named Squat and Gobble, and I’ve never been there.

Sandy G December 27, 2022 - 1:01 PM - 1:01 PM

El Charro

DavidCPA December 27, 2022 - 1:03 PM - 1:03 PM


Ricardoh December 27, 2022 - 1:29 PM - 1:29 PM

When I was a kid the Green Mill Restaurant in Cotati was the best. That was in the 1940s. Went back there about 25 years ago and it was sad. They used to have the best smorgasbord. It was a very popular place.

Ricardoh December 28, 2022 - 10:10 AM - 10:10 AM

Penngrove’s Green Mill Inn once served Roosevelt, Nixon

Rollo Tomasi December 27, 2022 - 1:31 PM - 1:31 PM

My father treated the family to a New Years Day dinner at the Velvet Turtle once. Very hoity toity for us at the time.

Lo December 27, 2022 - 1:33 PM - 1:33 PM

Post a school event, winter concert or play, dipped cones at Foster Freeze!

Our big family birthday gathering was usually at Red Lobster, we had quite the clumping of Jan/Feb/March birthdays on the family calendar.

Jeff (the other one) December 27, 2022 - 1:51 PM - 1:51 PM

The few times our family went out was to Ground Round, in Illinois. All I recall from the place is you got free peanuts and just threw the shells on the floor.

nytemuvr December 27, 2022 - 2:02 PM - 2:02 PM

Barney’s Hickory Pit, Fenton’s in Oakland, Vera’s Valona (Dead Fish) in Martinez and Palby’s Restaurant in Vallejo ( I think it burned in the 90s).

nytemuvr December 27, 2022 - 2:04 PM - 2:04 PM

Not to forget the old Riverview too.

Exit 12A December 27, 2022 - 2:16 PM - 2:16 PM

Farrell’s and…
… The Hungry Hunter.

Dr. Jellyfinger December 27, 2022 - 2:20 PM - 2:20 PM

Pioneer Inn ….. I miss that place.

Hanne Jeppesen December 28, 2022 - 12:44 PM - 12:44 PM

Was the Pioneer in in Clayton. I use to go some nice and fun place with friends in Clayton. Late eigthies and nineties.

Cellophane December 27, 2022 - 2:33 PM - 2:33 PM


Going out to eat was foreign to us.

Mom made a special meal, perhaps a roast, and cake.

That was our celebration meal.

MoJo December 27, 2022 - 2:37 PM - 2:37 PM

Banchero’s Italian Dinners in Hayward or Palby’s Restaurant in Vallejo.

SF oh December 27, 2022 - 4:25 PM - 4:25 PM

I remember Bancheros, too! Best minestrone soup ever!

Givengold December 27, 2022 - 10:40 PM - 10:40 PM

We still see the retired owner of Banchero’s at Colombo Club once a month. People are always asking him to re-open.

domo December 27, 2022 - 2:57 PM - 2:57 PM

Dupar’s – socal, probably not there anymore

California Toad December 27, 2022 - 3:10 PM - 3:10 PM

The Riverview Lodge in Antioch. Mmmmm, fried oysters, shrimp cocktail, and the restaurant felt kind of like a ship, right on the San Joaquin River. A special treat. Good times.

Martinezmike December 27, 2022 - 3:19 PM - 3:19 PM

Chef Boyardee

Th Fearless Spectator December 27, 2022 - 4:56 PM - 4:56 PM

Senor Pico’s or The Magic Pan, both in Ghirardelli Square.

electromaniac December 27, 2022 - 5:12 PM - 5:12 PM

C.C. Oles’s, Chevy’s and Sambo’s.
Today they are torn or burnt down. Except for CC Oles.

BWIZZLE December 27, 2022 - 5:32 PM - 5:32 PM

Mr. Steak on Clayton Road

T. Payne December 28, 2022 - 7:07 AM - 7:07 AM

We would go there too. If it was really special we would go to the Pioneer Inn in Clayton, or the Gray Fox in Concord. That was the first place where I saw someone make a Cesar Salad at your table with Egg Yolk and Anchovies.
I miss the Pioneer Inn. In 6th grade we had our class Christmas party there. We walked down the path from the School (Mount Diablo Elementary, it was still K-6 at the time) ate lunch and did a secret Santa exchange.

anon December 27, 2022 - 5:44 PM - 5:44 PM

Jolly burgers was a treat for us and we lived right off meadow lane on Toad Ave so it was close by.I think it’s el farro now. We also would go to smorgasbord in park and shop. This was in the late 60s.

Lou December 27, 2022 - 5:49 PM - 5:49 PM

CHUBBY HUMBLE’S PIONEER INN Clayton Best prime rib and lobster around.

Lou December 27, 2022 - 5:51 PM - 5:51 PM

Now it’s a church

Leeland December 27, 2022 - 6:35 PM - 6:35 PM

Carlos Murphys

Gittyup December 27, 2022 - 8:58 PM - 8:58 PM

My family didn’t eat out. They had a deep freezer in the 1940s and 1950s and bought sides of beef from a butcher in El Monte on Clayton Road near Chestnut Avenue. We were Walnut Ranchers and my family ate lots of steak, liver, sweetbreads, etc. My mother and father grew up on farms and slaughtered their own animals. Much later in the 1970s, for a special occasion they might go to Chubby Humble’s or Pioneer Inn, but it was very rare. I still don’t really care to eat out and rarely do. I hit the drive through, however, more than I’d like — a recent development since the whole Covid mess.

nytemuvr December 27, 2022 - 10:25 PM - 10:25 PM

@GITTYUP..…That would have been Fritz’s Meat Locker on the back side of El Monte Center.

Givengold December 27, 2022 - 10:42 PM - 10:42 PM

Arturo’s in WC, Danville Hotel, Brittany Inn, La Virage.

Mavis December 28, 2022 - 5:21 AM - 5:21 AM

Velvet Turtle in Pleasant Hill

Lita December 28, 2022 - 9:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Spengers in Berkeley

S December 28, 2022 - 9:56 AM - 9:56 AM

When I was little; we too, didn’t go out much. Mom would take requests and cook that special meal.

In later years we’d go to Curley’s. If it was real special: El Cerrito Station or White Knight.

The Wizard December 28, 2022 - 2:17 PM - 2:17 PM

S…My grandma liked E C station/ Kirby’s and would take me there. The White Knight was a Blue Hair favorite. Her hangout with the gang was Hunt’s Donut’s. She would give me 2 bits to spend at Woolworths. I also worked at Ms. Sandys next to Longs, what a dump.

S December 29, 2022 - 9:25 AM - 9:25 AM

All great places…. Not remembering Ms. Sandys…. Can ya’ refresh my memory?

The Wizard December 29, 2022 - 5:20 PM - 5:20 PM

S, Infront of the Plaza, San Pablo side next to the north side of Longs. It was a coffee shop. You might say it had a Roach problem. I used to spay them off the wall with the kitchen sprayer. Worked there in the mid 70s.

S December 30, 2022 - 6:55 AM - 6:55 AM

Thanks Wiz…. I’m just drawing a blank on this one…. Oh well, so much for old age…

Luv’in the nostalgia though………………

The Wizard December 30, 2022 - 10:36 AM - 10:36 AM

S…Another place that grandma would go do was Hartfield’s. It was a clothes place with that grandma smell. But after that it was donut time and 2 bits. My optometrist was there two, Dr. Zlot. I remember getting my first pair of glasses and seeing Albany Hill clearer than a bell. I never new things were that sharp. How about Capwells upstairs…Records, bike parts and toys.

nytemuvr December 29, 2022 - 1:27 AM - 1:27 AM

@S….Granny always made our favorite birthday cake, for me it was scratch carrot cake.

S December 29, 2022 - 9:28 AM - 9:28 AM

Luv a good Carrot Cake. One of my Grandma’s specialties was the pineapple upside down cake.

Panther 4 life December 28, 2022 - 10:09 AM - 10:09 AM

Jade Palace in County East Mall in Antioch.

Fed Up December 28, 2022 - 3:24 PM - 3:24 PM

Ray Douglas’s Pinecone/Branding Iron in SL (The Best Blueberry Muffins) at Bayfair Mall or House of Prime Rib in SF (It’s still the same as it always was)

Gittyup December 28, 2022 - 6:10 PM - 6:10 PM

@NYTEMUVR Fritz’s Meat Locker. Right! I couldn’t remember the name, but if you had ever been there, you wouldn’t forget the look of it. Cut to order, as I remember. Amazing the way he butchered and packaged a side of beef. Nothing was wasted. Memories of visiting the meat counter there.

nytemuvr December 29, 2022 - 1:23 AM - 1:23 AM

@GITTYUP…. Barney’s Hickory Pit used to get their meat there too, lots of local restaurants also. They also butchered most any game meat too until that was outlawed.

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