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Memories are the order of the day at Isadore’s

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Memories are the order of the day at Isadore’s

Dale and Tina Borgeson thank Laurel Fang for a “great lunch” and wish her well as they were about to leave the restaurant on Thursday.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED August 29, 2014 1:56 a.m.

It was another day of sad good-byes and warm hugs and loads of memories as Isadore’s Restaurant served its last lunch to longtime friends and customers Thursday noon.

The final dinner service is tonight for the 25-year-old fine dining establishment on North Main Street owned by Isadore and Laurel Fang that is closing so the couple can spend more time together as Laurel battles a serious illness

The two have worked as a non-stop team keeping the business going full speed ahead through good times and bad.  The latter stretched from the souring economy to illness and an effort to close them down by an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit. 

The noontime diners Thursday told of having engagement parties, birthday and anniversary dining events as well as business lunches and dinners at the restaurant over the years.  Laurel was her old self Thursday greeting her customers with her contagious smile at the front counter as Isadore was busy with his cook staff in the kitchen.

John Tubbs of Tubbs Electric and Pat O’Rourke from Bank of Stockton asked Laurel to sit with them for a moment to remember their happier times eating at Isadore’s.  Tubbs quoted his dad Willard giving Isadore words of advice when he entered his electric shop on Main Street a quarter century ago.

He said his dad told the new chef to Manteca that he didn’t think Manteca was ready for his type of fine dining restaurant and they couldn’t stand a high priced menu.  Tubbs said his father congratulated Isadore three years later when it was obvious he had survived the Manteca economy and its family budgets.

Bank of Stockton staffers Lisa George and Jen Baleva were having their final lunch on Thursday at the restaurant next to their bank.  They had both been there with 10 members of the bank staff on Wednesday night for another emotional farewell.

“Laurel always comes out and greets you and makes you feel welcome.  I’ve been eating here since 1998,” George said.  “She brings us goodies, sweets, cheese and garlic bread when she comes to do her banking.” 

It was a special menu for the women staffers from the bank.  Across the top it read: “Isadore’s loves the girls from the Bank of Stockton.”

Server Sarah Cambden is a longtime staffer who is also sad to leave.  

“This is my family,” she said. “This is my home.  I have been here since I was 18 – 17 years ago.”

Ann Evans who was having lunch in the dining room Thursday said she has been at Isadore’s “for everybody’s birthdays.  That’s 8X25, what does that come out to be? And, I have been taking out orders of their clam chowder out for the longest time.”. 

Evans said it was one place you could go for lunch or dinner and you would see somebody you knew.  Her husband Larry had been Kiwanis Club president and she was involved in the wives support group having many dinners at Isadore’s between them. 

Ruth Erwin who was enjoying a quiet lunch with Evans said she and her husband Ken first enjoyed Isadore’s when it first opened.  

“It was a brand new fine dining restaurant – not fast food,” Erwin recall. “ We really enjoyed the food and you didn’t have to go out of town; and their clam chowder is the best!”

An anonymous business woman presented Laurel with a bottle of “Marilyn Monroe” wine that upon research is valued at $699 a bottle.  Laurel and Isadore were thrilled.

Another group from Groveland and Manteca – regulars at the restaurant – gave their hugs in the front lobby to the couple.  They included Joan and Mel Kauffman of Manteca and Valerie and Ken Lett of Groveland.  Also in the group were Louise Riggs and Barbara Coldren.

Kathy (Fonseca) Rich was there too with friend Roberta Davidson. 

“I have come here for every important occasion since for the last 25 years,” Rich said.  

Rich’s daughter Kristin Rich even put a video on Facebook mentioning her grandparents Dorothy and Al Fonseca and their love for Isadoe’s, she added. 

Arvin and Connie Reed had their engagement party in the corner booth with her sister and brother in law Judy and Bill Goodwin, she recalled Thursday.  

“We are going to miss Laurel and Isadore.  They are the best,” Connie said – adding that their panko shrimp and spinach salad is a treat.  “It’s really hard to see them go.”

McParland School Principal Dale Borgeson and his wife Tina were there for lunch giving their hugs and best wishes on the way out the door.

A white, dry erase board in Laurel’s office told exactly how their staff is feeling with their closing of the restaurant.

“You have NO IDEA the amount of gratitude we have for you……You have not only made us better workers, but also better people.  For this we love you, xoxoxo!”

And a card from a seven year old who has long lunched with grandma:

“Dear Laurel and Izzy, Thank you for cooking a special lunch for us every week for seven years.  We won’t know where to go but you will be in our hearts forever, Love, Rowan and Grandma.”

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