A long-time family-owned restaurant, known for feeding the needy during the holiday season, is closing one of its locations.
The owners of Clay's Restaurants, have decided to shut its California Avenue doors. The blue paint showing through the rooftop bears witness to its former IHOP days, one of two restaurants owned by Victor and Isabel Romero.
Every year for the last two decades, they closed for regular business on two specific days during Thanksgiving and Christmas to feed the homeless. Over the years, they have served literally thousands of disadvantaged people during the holidays. It's something the family loved to do, especially her father victor.
"It's been actually, really, our pleasure to be able to do that," said Annie Romero, their daughter. "He's already asking, 'are we not doing Christmas? we can do it over there.'"
The Romeros immigrated from Peru, and victor came to work at an IHOP in L.A. as a bus boy, eventually buying two of his own in Bakersfield but its time for the Romeros to take some time off and enjoy life on the other of side the counter.
"My mom put her foot down," said Annie Romero. "We would still be open if it were up to my dad. But my mom said 'enough.'" Ironically, Annie Romero says as they struggled to pack up and close down Clay's Restaurant, they had unsolicited help from a homeless man, perhaps trying to repay the family for what they've done for him and thousands of others. "It was kind of like God saying, 'See? Pay it forward.'"
The Romeros hope to start feeding the less fortunate again at their other Clay's location on Wible Road in the future, but not this Christmas.