Former employees save beloved Berkeley diner

A beloved Berkeley diner, shuttered last month amid the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, is getting a second chance. 

The new owners, made up of seven former managers and workers, say they’ll be dropping the name Bette, from Bette's Oceanview Diner, but keeping everything else the same.

"I think it’s great," said former diner regular Potouli Kalofonos of Berkeley. "I hope it will have the same kind of vibe and feel, which I would assume because it’s the same folks."

"That makes us very happy, because this is such an establishment."added Karen Ting, who learned the news on Sunday outside the restaurant.

For nearly 40 years the restaurant, which sits on 4th Street, has been a staple in the community

"I had a long history going there. I had been going there since I was a teenager," said William Bishop, co-owner of the new Oceanview Diner. 

Bishop, who managed the previous restaurant's finances, says he felt obligated to do something when Bette’s longtime owners, exhausted from the pressures of the pandemic, announced that the diner would close.

Report: Oakland saw slowest growth in rent prices in the U.S., has least expensive median rent in Bay Area

"I really didn’t like the idea of something else going there, and also I didn’t like the idea of people who had been working there 10, 20, 30 years, of not being able to continue to work there for the rest of their career if they wanted to," said Bishop.

Bishop says he also has been receiving an outpouring of support from the community.

"We’ve had people writing us cards about the fact that the place closed down. We had people leave candles and flowers the day after we closed," said Bishop.

After the restaurant closed Bishop says he reached out to the building’s owner, Denny Abrams, who loaned the new owners the money to reopen it.

"The former owners of Bette’s did a great job, and we wanted to see that continue. It’s an important part of the greater 4th street," said Denny Abrams of area developer, Abrams, Millikan & Associates.

Berkeley man dies after being released from sobering cell raising questions about his care

The developer and his partner, are largely credited with helping to transform fourth street into a bustling shopping destination.

"We designed it, we built it over forty years ago. We picked the whole idea of having a diner there." added Abrams.

Bishop and the six other co-owners, made up of managers, servers, and two longtime chefs, say the former owner of Bette's is allowing them to use the restaurant's recipes and the names of its specials.

"Everybody has their favorite breakfast place, and when they can’t go get that same breakfast, every morning when they want it, it’s kind of heartbreaking, so it’s nice that people are going to have that again," said Bishop.

Bishop says the new owners are aiming to reopen the diner at the end of February.