The photos on the walls of Whalley’s Round Up Cafe are plastered with photos of Surrey’s past, but after Friday it’s the iconic North Surrey diner that will be a part of history.
After more than six decades in business at King George Boulevard and 104A Avenue, the restaurant is calling it quits — another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID, the restaurant industry is being shut down for a period of time, and then opened up, and only being able to be open for 50 per cent of occupancy and then shut down again,” Dennis Springenatic — whose parents bought the diner in 1959 — told Global News.
“It’s tough to survive.”
The diner, known for its big breakfasts and Ukrainian food, has been a community hub in Whalley for longer than many of its patrons can remember.
Springenatic’s father Orest was heavily involved in Whalley little league, further tying the business to the community.
“There’s so many stories people have told us over the years — their mom and dad met here or they had their first milkshake here or came from the roller rink when they were 12 years old and listened to the jukebox,” he said.
“It’s jus the memories of this place after 60-something years.”
Former Surrey MLA and MP Penny Priddy dropped by Friday to say goodbye, after dining at the restaurant for 40 years.
“What I think will be missing is what some people call placemaking,” she said.
“Places that are the heart of the community, they have history, they have memories, they make the place what it is.”
Diane Konings and her husband Ed stopped by the restaurant Friday for a final meal with their now-grown children.
Konings worked the graveyard shift at the diner 35 years ago — an era when the Round Up was open 24 hours a day — while Ed stayed home and watched the kids.
“I remember one night when they threw napkin holders through the window at each other, smashed the windows,” she said of the rowdy crowd that would sometimes descend on the restaurant after bars were closed and parties were over.
“What am I going to miss? Oh, the people,” she added. “Everybody loves them.”
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Springenatic said the family plans a “somewhat slow semi-retirement” after the restaurant is closed.
They intend to hold onto the property and rent the building out in the short term, though with the pace of development in the area, the venerable structure’s days are likely numbered.
“One day it won’t be here, it will be a high-rise,” Springenatic said.
“It’s been a great place to grow up. It’s a sad day, but eventually we knew one day it was going to happen. It’s too bad it took a pandemic,” he added.
“I was born in this place. Literally.”