Politics

Alameda’s 93-year-old waffle shop fights to survive, again


In July, to make payroll for his employees, Ken and Vickie Monize of Ole’s Waffle Shop in Alameda made an unbelievable decision. They sold their dream retirement property, a flat lot in a Santa Rosa subdivision that would have held a two-bedroom ranch home and swimming pool.

Then, they steeled themselves. Hoped for the best. With fall came limited indoor dining, and an unexpected order for 200 breakfasts every Wednesday helped pay the rent.

Now, as Alameda County and much of the state shuts down due to escalated COVID-19 cases, the second-generation owners of this nearly century-old diner have done it again. Instead of laying off a single employee, the Monizes are selling the last piece of property they own, a different home in Santa Rosa that was recently rebuilt after burning to the ground in the 2017 Tubbs fire.

“I can keep the house but it only saves one family,” Ken says. “If I do this, I can save 40 families.”

On Thursday morning, Ken spoke to the cooks, busy boys and waitresses he calls family and shared the grim reality facing so many small businesses around the Bay Area.

“They said we’ll keep working. Don’t pay us,” Ken said of the staff, including some who have worked for him for 40 years. “But I won’t do that. It’s not legal and it’s not the right thing to do.”

The right thing, to Ken and his wife, who he describes as the most selfless person he has ever known, is to continue paying the people who make Ole’s “an amazing little business.” He has immortalized those longtime workers with painted portraits and ink sketches by a local artist.


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