PLEASANTON (CBS SF) — There are no signs on the street, no indication that it’s even there. But enter the Alameda County Fairgrounds and follow the road all the way to its end and like the sign says — Welcome To The Stable Café.
Working all alone, Esther Hall has been serving up breakfast for 26 years mostly to jockeys and trainers who would board their race horses at the fairgrounds year-round. Her specialty is the giant pancakes.
“Manhole cover — that’s what a lot of people call ‘em!” she said with a laugh.
To say the cafe was out of the way would be putting it mildly. It’s steady clientele have been the workers in the horse stables.
“How does anybody know this place is here? It’s a secret,” she said. “Some people call it the best kept secret in town.”
In January the horsemen lost their financial support to stable here and left leaving the café with so few customers that it began closing on Sundays. That bothered David Muller.
“It got very quiet and we would come in on some of the days after that happened and there would be one or two people,” Muller said.
But David had an idea. He asked Esther if his son Blake, who is autistic, could come help her out once in a while. She said yes and that led to more young people from the Flower Hill special needs program getting involved.
Now, on the third Sunday of every month the café is buzzing again, serving a great breakfast to all the families and friends of its new special workforce.
“For us, it’s a great opportunity for him to develop himself,” Muller said. “(To) gain confidence interacting with people and just seeing how the real world works.”
When asked what working at the cafe means to him, Blake Muller answers quickly.
“This is gonna mean that pretty soon a real job will become easy,” he said.
It’s a total win-win. The new waiters work for tips which are usually pretty generous and the café gets the extra business and some much-needed publicity. But perhaps the biggest winner of all is Esther herself.
“It’s opened my eyes,” she said. “They’re (the volunteers) helping me like, they don’t even know.”