Go to the Antioch Straw Hat and see life unvarnished, unexpurgated, in need of Garlic Parmesan Groovy Sticks, or a “Meat-E-OR” pizza.
“It’s my second home,” says Josephine Aiello, 64, the three-times-a-week regular. “We always go there, my daughter, my brothers, all week long and then for special occasions like our birthdays.”
Owner Sal Listek says “Josie is an institution.” “All our regulars know they can count on seeing her in the same seat, ordering the same pepperoni pizza every Friday.”
There was, as still is, a buzzing about the place, a consoling murmur of conversations that are familiar for decades, explains Sal, who today owns three Straw Hat locations in Antioch, Brentwood and Discovery Bay. The soda kid who came in with his dad, became a bus boy at Straw Hat in the 1970’s and today puts his own three kids – Jared, 12, Caitlin, 11 and Megan, 7, to work busing tables when they ask dad for extra cash.
He listens to a lot of conversations, but since he has heard the same ones for years, he does not listen too closely. Some of the long-timer diners were and are employees of Rowley International Inc., a major pool manufacturer.
“We’ve got two ladies who meet here two or three times a week since before 1990 when we were in another location,” says Listek. “They just moved with us.”
Indeed the Antioch Straw Hat is the community hub, a place where sports teams and townspeople have been gathering for decades. So who are the jock-looking football players who you’ll sometimes spot hanging out here? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog.