About 100 loyal DeAngelo’s Char Burger customers gathered at the restaurant Thursday to say goodby to its owners, who have sold the business to former Angel pitcher Bert Blyleven and a Villa Park business owner.
DeAngelo’s owners George and Anita Berlacher will close their restaurant today at 2 p.m. when Blyleven and Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery owner Marty Colleary will begin turning the place into Blyleven’s Dugout Diner.
Blyleven, who attended the Berlacher’s surprise party, said the restaurant will feature highlights of his pitching career and baseball memorabilia.
Colleary said the dining tables will be glass and will encase baseball cards, gloves and bats. The menu will consist of hamburgers and breakfast with names including the “single,” “bunt,” “walk” and “hit.”
“George has been here for eight years and turned this restaurant into a very successful business,” Blyleven said. “We’re hoping to keep his customers.”
He said the restaurant will be remodeled to look like a dugout and ready to open for business within a month.
Meanwhile, DeAngelo’s patrons said they will miss the restaurant that has been a part of the city for 25 years.
“This is a chapter that’s closing in Villa Park,” Mayor Barry L. Denes said, who ate cake with Orange Councilman Fred L. Barrera during the celebration.
Others also felt nostalgic about the restaurant, which they described as having a “homey atmosphere.”
“This is our little community place,” said Andrea Byrnes, a Villa Park resident who has been eating at DeAngelo’s for years. “All the same people come here all the time. We all know George and this is part of the community. Not many family-run places like this exist any more.”
Richard Elgas, who began going to DeAngelo’s for breakfast eight years ago when the Berlachers became the restaurant’s 10th owners, played his trumpet as a tribute to the Berlachers.
“The food’s beside the point,” the Orange resident said. “It’s the atmosphere and George and Anita’s personalities that make it nice to come here.”
Other customers agreed and added the food is good, too. DeAngelo’s menu hasn’t changed in seven years and business has grown.
“Whenever my grandson and I pass by here, he says, ‘Grandpa, that’s the best hamburger joint in town,’ ” Barrera said.
Kathy Moran, who has breakfast there about three times a week, said she remembers the time when her husband told George Berlacher that he would like to see bagels on the menu, and Berlacher had a cook go to the grocery store to buy bagels for them.
“That’s what makes this place so special,” Moran said.
Robert Lloyd said he was upset to hear that the restaurant will close.
“I don’t like that at all,” the 12-year-old Cerro Villa Middle School student said. “I don’t want it to close down. I come here after school every day.”
Erb and Melva Kimble said they complete their morning walks with breakfast at DeAngelo’s.
“We’re going to be lost in the mornings with no place to go now,” said Erb Kimble, 73.
Berlacher, 65, of Los Alamitos said he is retiring and will do some traveling with his wife.
“I know almost all my customers by their names, and I’m going to miss them more than the restaurant,” said Berlacher, who worked every day as a cashier, waiter and cook.