Bette and Manfred Kroening opened the Diner on April 5, 1982 with their great friend, Sue Conley. Bette, a social worker by training, and Sue, who studied political science, met as cooks at the Fourth Street Grill, where they chopped, tossed, grilled, and sautéed under chef Paul Bertolli. Caught up in the food movement that swept the Bay Area in the 1970s and passionate about eating, they had changed profession. Manfred, born in Hamburg and trained as a tool and die maker, molded the long narrow, train car-shaped space, once a nail factory, into the art deco jewel it is today.
The diner caught on from day one, filling a much needed gap in breakfast and lunch service for the artisans and factory workers in the industrial district of Berkeley. In 1986, the trio opened Bette’s To-Go, where you can grab a quick pastry, slice of pizza, salad, even some tacos to eat on the run or at one of the tables out front.
In 1995, Sue left the Diner to follow her passion for cheese and founded Cowgirl Creamery. In 2017, our dearly beloved Bette passed away. Today, Manfred continues to carry the torch and can often be seen in the Diner, waitlist in hand. A few items have been added to the menu, but the corned beef hash, scrapple and buttermilk short stack haven’t budged. On the other hand, Fourth Street has grown up around it, becoming a booming shopping street.