PITTSBURG — After years of selling homemade breakfast, Otto’s Cafe is up for sale.
Otto’s Cafe was built in 1945 as an annex of the historic Hotel Stilwell, opened by Nels Otto.
Shortly after, the business was bought by Frank Johnson and the Johnson family owned and operated the cafe for 70 years.
Upon their retirement, not wanting to see the cafe close down, today’s owner Karl Gregory bought it to keep the business going.
Although he takes pride in the restaurant, he said at the age of 73 it is time for him to start thinking about retirement.
“I enjoy this, but I think it is about time to think about retiring — I’m 73,” Gregory said.
Gregory said he plans to keep the store open until it is sold in hope that someone will continue the tradition.
Otto’s Cafe Waitress Manager Jamie Harryman who has worked at the store for almost 10 years said Otto’s customers are like family.
“Karl kept it open for us,” she said. “Our regular customers — are regular — they know about our family and days off.
“Sometimes we are the only people they see all day — they are like family. They care about us and we are all about them.”
Gregory said he wanted to keep the store open to keep his and the community’s memories of Otto’s Cafe alive.
“I always felt I had a responsibility to it (Otto’s) and the employees — so I decided to keep the restaurant open,” he said.
One of his first jobs was at Otto’s Cafe, in 1962. Now 73 years old, Gregory reminisced about the owners and fond memories of the store.
“Frank and Mary Johnson treated me really well,” Gregory said. “In fact, how I was hired is pretty interesting.
“I came in and saw a Boy Scout emblem hanging on the wall — I was an Eagle Scout — when I told him that he told me to just be here at 8 o’clock in the morning. I will never forget that.”
Gregory said he had always been fond of the design and history of the Hotel Stilwell and Otto’s — the detailed work is just not the same these days, he said.
The restraunt’s kitchen has been recently upgraded and has everything it needs to operate, Gregory said.
The restaurant seats over 130 people with 2,200 square foot, complete with a basement and of course, right next to the historical Hotel Stilwell.
Gregory said he knows the restaurant has made an impact over the years because he has met people who came back to Pittsburg just to visit after years of being away.
“One particular couple came in after 45 years,” he said. “This was the first place they came.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.