By GLENN KAHL
Two restaurants in Ripon are the “people’s choice” for breakfast opening before dawn every morning of the week – Frank’s Place and My Garden Café.
Both are located west of the old downtown in a shopping center at Wilma Avenue and West Main Street where certain farmers – regulars pretty much every day – go to be with friends and chat over their cups of coffee before daybreak. Those interested in more of a breakfast show up about 8:30 a.m.
Frank Correa sold his restaurant on East Yosemite Avenue in Manteca about six years ago and opened Frank’s Place that has become one of the favorites to go for breakfast in Ripon. My Garden Café – just up the street – was opened about 12 years ago by Lisa Welch of Salida and was an almost instant favorite with the community.
Welch quickly opened other locations after her first year in business with one in Sonora, two in Modesto and one in Ceres under the My Garden Café name. Waitress Alyssa Puricelli said most of her morning diners are regulars and she and the other staffers focus on getting to know each of them trying to remember their likes with their most popular breakfast being the Ham and Eggs Special
“Some of the waitresses remember kids who are coming back now and in college,” she said chuckling.
One table of four at My Garden, satisfied with just having coffee and conversation, were made up of brothers Harold and Fred Van Duyn, Fred Drost and Gary Bolhuis who returns to Ripon every winter from the cold of Montana.
Bolhuis said he was leaving soon to go home and fix his own breakfast. Fred Van Duyn chimed in that he had to get breakfast for his wife Helen of 60 years. He was on his way to McDonald’s to get her a Breakfast McMuffin and some oatmeal – her favorites. Before they all went on their separate way, they toasted each other with their coffee mugs.
Drost said he spent many hours in his milk barn playing music on the radio as he milked his herd. “Always music in the barn,” he laughed. “Those cows have to be happy cows.”
To the north of the parking lot a small group gathered at Frank’s Place restaurant to enjoy each other’s company between 6:30 and 7 a.m. Most would stay about an hour. Coffee was all they wanted, except for former county supervisor and Ripon farmer Adrian Fondse who enjoyed his breakfast.
Joining the group were Dave Phippen, Jay Hoff, Garret and Dirk Hofman, Arvin Boersma and Chuck Hollander with waitress Jeanne Broderick keeping their coffees topped off. It was about an hour later when others interested in a full breakfast began to show up in the restaurant for ham and eggs and omelets.
A topic of historical conversation was the development of the Highway 120 Bypass and how the costs were shared between the county and state governments to take the Bay Area traffic backup off of Yosemite Avenue going through downtown Manteca.
Because of lacking funds the bypass was virtually a three-lane highway that took some 20 lives of motorists during its first year in operation.
An Almond Blossom Festival memory was also brought up on the table when Fondse came upon a traffic backup after the parade where three lines of traffic were attempting to go over Highway 99 freeway on the Second Street bridge. A Ripon police unit spotted him out in the middle of the street directing traffic In the middle of the intersection – doing his best to alleviate the backup. He left as he was told to do “but then I came back,” he chuckled, and the traffic backup eased up quickly.
The group later noted that Stanley Van Der Veen comes in and joins them on Saturday mornings with his endless series of jokes – new and old. And on Sundays, when the churches empty out from early morning services, many head for Frank’s Place for a family breakfast while other groups fill My Garden Café.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.