Beloved Bette's Oceanview Diner closes permanently after nearly 40 years

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- It has been a much different scene than usual at the doors of Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley.

Locals normally stop by the Fourth Street neighborhood staple for good vibes and mouth-watering pancake combos. But instead, now dropping off flowers and taking photos.

Bette's Oceanview Diner served its last meal on Sunday, after nearly 40 years of delicious Americana ambiance since opening its doors in 1982.

"So painful," said Randy Brewer, a neighboring business owner. "It's such an institution on this street."

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The owner of Bette's Oceanview Diner, Manfred Kroening, told ABC7 News he's been ready to retire. He added that the stresses from the pandemic as well as staffing issues made operating Bette's increasingly difficult to operate.

"They worked so hard," said Brewer. "And when Bette passed away 5 years ago I didn't think they were going to keep going and they did."

It's hard to imagine in the current day, but when Bette's opened on Berkeley's Fourth Street, it was one of the only places to eat on the street. Its popularity helped jumpstart the neighborhood.

"This was like the kingpin of the street," remembered longtime customer Beth Fischer. "This was the place."

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Fischer had been coming to Bette's roughly every two weeks for 35 years. She only learned it has closed when she showed up for her routine Wednesday morning.

"I just found out," said Fischer. "And I see other people coming out, there's roses at the door and I'm so very heartfelt about it."

It's the consistency, much like their fan-favorite soufflé pancakes, and welcoming hospitality, that made Bette's Oceanview diner a Berkeley institution. A beloved go-to spot for locals. It's those qualities that now make it all the more crushing that they've closed.

"They will be sorely, sorely missed," said Brewer. "Kind of irreplaceable."

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