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Retiring Stable Cafe owner reflects on decades-long legacy in community

'I can't express how grateful I am,' Hall says upon closure of restaurant at Pleasanton fairgrounds
Stable Cafe owner Esther Hall works the kitchen line last week, one day before its permanent closure on Friday, Sept. 8.

This past Saturday, longtime Stable Cafe owner Esther Hall woke up at 4:20 a.m. like she typically does to get ready for work. But that day was different -- the cafe was closed and for the first time in decades, she found herself not knowing what to do.

"Everybody was sound asleep," Hall told Livermore Vine. "My grandkids were asleep. My daughter was sleeping. I was lost."

Hall has been the cook, waitress, cashier and owner of the widely known cafe that was tucked away in the barn area of the Alameda County Fairgrounds racetrack for the last 32 years.

Hall said at first, the job was simply to provide for her kids. But when the horse racing community who were around her cafe took her in and made her feel like part of the family, she began realizing the value of her little spot.

"That always kept me there," Hall said. "They were my family. My children's family."

As word of mouth started to spread of her cafe where one could enjoy a simple breakfast or lunch while also being able to see the horses right outside, that's when more and more Pleasanton residents began to stumble upon the cafe.

Soon enough, large communities such as members of veteran support groups started making the cafe their regular hangout spot.

Hall said that she felt people especially liked the laid-back and home-like atmosphere, adding that many people would go in their pajamas simply because they felt relaxed enough to do so.

But that's all over now as of last Friday, Hall closed up shop in order to move to Utah so that she could be closer to her family including her children, grandkids and great grandson.

The decision to do so weighed heavily on Hall who said that while she is looking forward to starting her new life in Utah, she is going to miss everyone in Pleasanton.

She said as she closed the cafe for good, it has been very hard to say goodbye to a lot of those longtime friends and customers.

So much so that she is still finding time to say goodbyes to those who didn't have a chance to visit the restaurant before it closed by hosting a private bingo night on Wednesday.

She said she enjoyed remembering all of the get-togethers and meetings that longtime friend groups would have at the cafe simply because they could take their time to talk for hours on end.

Hall also appreciated the cafe for the years she was able to spend with her grandkids who worked alongside her every summer up until these last and final few weeks -- which helped her begin cleaning out the cafe due to the fact that her grandkids wanted to keep dozens of mementos.

"I think we're taking half of the restaurant back to Utah with us," she said. "They are taking everything ... that has a memory to them because they've spent so much of their life there. So much of their life."

As for the cafe, Hall said there is currently no interest from anyone else to buy or take over.

While she continued to clear out the cafe before her drive out to Utah, Hall reflected on the roughly 200 people who came out on her last day open.

She said seeing the kids who she knew when their mothers were pregnant with them and people crying alongside her made her feel grateful for what she built at the cafe.

And to all those other people who came out in the last 32 years, all she wanted to say was, thank you.

"I can't express how grateful I am," Hall said. "To all of them."

Members from local veteran support groups award Hall with medals and certificates during her last day of operation. Photo courtesy of Hall



About the Author: Christian Trujano

Christian Trujano, a Bay Area native and San Jose State alum, joined Embarcadero Media in May 2022 following his graduation. He is an award-winning student journalist who has covered stories in San Jose ranging from crime to higher education.
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