Reflections : 'My biggest joy is breakfasts'

October 22, 1985|PERRY C RIDDLE

The sign on the diner rea ds "George's Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner." The little brick building stands on a thin strip of land sandwiched between the Southern Pacific railroad tracks and the Valley College campus. Five white-topped tables and a carry-out counter are managed by George Kellel, owner, cook and satisfied man.

I've been in the food business in small places since 1950. I've never been down the drain at any of them because I'm always here. I don't let the hired help run it. I think that's one of the reasons that I always make a pretty good living at it. The customer knows when he's going to get a good meal.

I'm from North Dakota, Bismark. That's where I had a little place until I decided to come out here, which was a good move. In North Dakota it's too cold. I've seen 50 below zero. After I got out here it felt very good, I mean, God, I never missed the winters. I couldn't get used to it at the start because it starts getting a little fall-like, and I keep waiting. Pretty soon it's gonna snow and pretty soon it's gonna blizzard. But it never happens. It didn't take me long to adjust to that.

So when I got the chance to come out here to live I took it. That was 1963 and I had a place on Wilshire Boulevard. The rent and taxes got to be too high so I started looking around. I finally found this place here and it appealed to me and it was for sale. That's over 14 years ago, and I'm still here.

The freight train comes by here once a day. When you see it from here it may look like it's coming right inside.

A couple of years ago these guys, big guys, were sitting right here. One guy was facing the tracks. The train was coming. When it came up here he got up and out he went, running from that train. "Hey, don't," I says. But he went out. He comes back a little later and says, "It scared me when I seen that freight train coming, it looked like it was coming in here." I say "No, we don't have to worry about that." Probably the only place around that's got a freight train.

Also, I was held up one night.

Two guys. One was tall, one was short. They'd been in before. So this one evening about 5:30 there was nobody around, they walked in and I say "Hi." They said, "Give us two Cokes." I turned around to get the Cokes. When I turned back, the first one had a gun. I was surprised. It just happened so fast. I just stood there. The tall one comes around real quick, the other one said, "Don't do anything." Off they went. Goodbye. I mean it. They didn't say much. When I looked at that gun, they didn't have to say anything.

I open at 6:30 and I work breakfasts. My biggest joy is breakfasts. I love making breakfasts. I just love to fry eggs and bacon and ham. Sometimes it makes me hungry. I'm alone till the cook arrives at 9, and of course I work in the afternoon. We have a little room here. I lay down, take a nap, an hour or so. And then Marina leaves at 4:30 and I close at 6:30. I think it would be boring working 9 to 5. I like being with people. I like this kind of work and I like to cook.

Sometimes we have problems during the day, but most of the time I go home and I'm happy. I go home and I relax. That's the way it's been and that's the way it's gonna be. As long as I can do it, as long as I'm able, I like to work. Nobody's gonna tell me that I have to retire.

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