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Bobbi Thorne Reminisces About Her Customers

A gentler time and a connection to regular customers made Bobbi's Coffee Shop a 'Cheers' like atmosphere.

There were lots of regulars—the old men’s club, firefighters, police, church groups, even the president of Lockheed ate at . So when the shop’s namesake learned of the diner’s closure it stirred up a lot of memories for her about the business she opened in 1969.

“I had great customers,” Bobbi Thorne said in March when she spoke with Patch about her diner that was .

In a short stroll down memory lane Thorne—who had the surname Shepherd when she owned Bobbi’s—recalled just some of the many locals who were frequent diners.

“There was a group of men, we called it the old men’s club. It was maybe ’75 and they were in their 80s. One by one they died,” she said.

It was a place you went for comfort food like eggs over easy, crispy hash browns and comfort of another kind.

"You went there because they knew your name. It was like Cheers, really, but it wasn't a bar," Gary Jones said.

Sundays were especially busy thanks to a big church group, from a nearby Presbyterian church, she says, that would come in after services. Workers at said Bobbi’s customers were often their customers as well; that same church group would often wander over to shop for plants after breakfast.

“They were like my family,” Thorne said of her regulars. “When you have (a shop) for a long time you get to know everyone.”

She remembers seeing the president of Lockheed, teachers and principals stop in often, and once held a contest for students in the area to design the look of the new menu.

“Saratoga High School won. They did a nice job. They got a prize; I gave them some money, but I forget what I gave them.

At accentuated by daily diners who ordered the same breakfast every morning and were greeted with a friendly hello and a hot breakfast.

"We would see them walking across the parking lot at 6:30 a.m. and we had their breakfast ready for them and at their seat by the time they sat down because we knew what they would order," she says.

She was around long enough to see couples marry, have children and watch their children grow.

“There was Bud who used to own the Shell station at Prospect and Saratoga. I remember when he met his wife and had twin boys, then when (the twins) went to high school,” Thorne said.

And the children of Donny McKercher, her longtime cook’s kids call her Grandma Bobbi.

She loved her customers, well, those she allowed to return that is.

“If I didn’t like you, I’d kick you out. There were a few men who would be nasty to my waitresses and I wouldn’t take that,” she said.

Smoking wasn’t tolerated by Thorne either.

“If you don’t like it, don’t come in. We don’t need ya.”

As a small business owner she worked a lot of long hours but as her own boss she adjusted her schedule to meet the needs of her own family.

“When I first got it I was open at nights for dinner. It just took too much and I was trying to raise the kids. It took me away from the kids so I decided just to do breakfast and lunch and hope and pray it works. It was more important to be with kids,” she said.

Then when her daughter went to San Francisco State University and had Mondays off, Thorne closed the coffee shop on Mondays, too, so she could spend that day with her daughter.

Now everybody is grown and Thorne lives in Las Vegas, but made a recent quick visit to the area and stopped by the diner to see how it fared.

“Went by for a look. It sure is a mess,” she said in an email.

Editor’s note: and will call it said a banner should be up above on the shop soon announcing the signed lease and .

Do you have fond memories of Bobbi's Coffee Shop? Share them with us in the Comments Section.

Roger Pickler July 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Bobbi's Coffee Shop has many memories for me. In my youth I looked forward to being retired and being one of those older men enjoying each others company. Now I am retired and they are closed. Bobbi was family. My sister married her nephew and I was able to give her daughter some part-time work. However, I was probably not one of their favorite customers because I had learned that a Chocolate Milk Shake went good with breakfast. The waitresses would always give me a hard time when I ordered corned beef hash, scramble egg and of course the chocolate milk shake. Thank you Bobbi for all the fine memories.
Gary E. Jones July 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I would drag the kids out of bed on a weekend morning (early) so Barbie could sleep late. Grab the paper and off to Babbi's for a real breakfast. The kids loved it. Then it was off to soccer or a swim meet. Then when we became empty nesters the trips to Bobbi's actually increased. Reading the paper, hot coffee and a weight watcher special made for the perfect beginning of a retired day. There were also the many breakfast with the buddies for conversation and catching up.

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