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BEHIND THE BAR; Owner Karen Jonke, at right, and longtime bartender Donna Popp, in back and just to the left, at Krayons Gallery on Friday.
By Fred Zehnder
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

It’s often called Castro Valley’s version of “Cheers,” and owner Karen Jonke says Krayons Gallery even has a few “Norms” and maybe a Cliff Clavin or two who stop by regularly.

Once-named Duffy’s Tavern after the popular radio comedy of the 1940s, Krayons – which was Jonke’s nickname – will celebrate its 35th anniversary this Saturday, Oct. 18.

Tucked just off the sidewalk at 3477 Castro Valley Blvd. near the intersection of Redwood Road, the old neighborhood bar is known for its comfortable surroundings, good prices and friendly service.

Jonke, who went through Castro Valley Schools and graduated from CVHS in 1963, had worked as a waitress and bartender around the East Bay since she was 21. When the owners of Duffy’s were looking to sell, she found backers and was able to buy the old-style bar and restaurant. It’s been going strong ever since.

Many of Krayons customers and some of its employees have been there for much of those 35 years.

Bartender Donna Popp started with Jonke when Krayons opened in 1979. Later she began another career, retired, and then came back to tend bar.

Why is the place so popular?

“I have no idea,” Jonke says. But you don’t have to be there for long to see that much of the bar’s popularity owes to her outgoing personality and her running dialogue with customers, honed from her many years as a bartender.

And then there’s the food. Wanda Larsen, who was also there on day one and still works as a bartender, set up the original food service. A crowd shows up at lunch time on Fridays for what many say are the best steaks and hamburgers in town. Doing the Friday barbecuing is Jonke’s husband, Fred. They’ve been married for 27 years.

Saturday’s anniversary party begins at 2 p.m.

 

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