BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Hodel’s has been a go-to dining spot in Bakersfield for decades. It’s a place for families who just want a hearty buffet. But with this pandemic, Hodel’s plans to close until next spring.
Bob Hodel is the owner of Hodel’s Country Dining in North Bakersfield. He started the restaurant over 50 years ago and his family has worked there ever since. But tomorrow – Hodel’s will close temporarily.
“Weve been very blessed, for what has happened in the last 53 years with Hodel’s,” said Bob Hodel. “We’ll just see what will happen in the next few months.”
Hodel says he’s hoping to reopen in March. By then, customers might see some changes.
“We have some ideas to remake ourselves to redesign ourselves,” Hodel said. “Again, a lot of options.”
Hodel says they’re considering shutting down the buffet and serving individual plates. But the restaurant will wait until next year to make any decisions.
“It’s been 9 months of step by step, day by day, week by week,” Hodel said. “Trying to figure out the uncertainty it keeps tossing at us.”
Hodel’s is just one of many restaurants closing because of the pandemic. One of Bakersfield’s oldest relics – the Noriega Hotel Basque Restaurant – had to shut down completely earlier this year.
“It’s been very difficult to start and stop and start and stop,” Hodel said. “It’s almost impossible because you have to order 10 days in advance for some of the stuff. So it’s been very difficult.”
Hodel says 2019 was their best year, but in 2020 the restaurant lost 95% of their revenue. As a result – Hodel’s cant afford to stay open. Many friends and locals who heard the news stopped by to squeeze in one last meal.
“Im here today because I heard they’re closing and I said, I have to go there,” said Gerald Howze, a frequent customer.
Bakersfield City Council member Jacquie Sullivan says she’s a frequent guest at Hodel’s.
“”We expect Hodel’s to be here forever and hopefully they’re going to be back,” Sullivan said. “It’s a meeting place, you always see people that you know and Bob is always in the back booth reading his paper.”
Some of the staff has worked at Hodel’s for over 40 years. One customer says he’s been going there since he was a baby.
“Im 43 and I’ve been coming here for 43 years,” said Pastor Mike Jenkins, a frequent customer. “My parents have been bringing me here since I was a toddler. I really feel like the city should be able to come together to keep it open it’s a historical place for Bakersfield.”