Jeri Bronstrup and her
famous Way Station Coffee Shop in Old Town Newhall.
Crisp bacon sizzling on the grill. Fresh coffee brewing. Buzzing conversations of patrons enjoying the camaraderie.
Many of these patrons have been having breakfast together for almost the entire 26 years that Jeri Bronstrup has served the community at her Way Station Coffee Shop at the corner of Ninth Street and San Fernando Road in Old Town Newhall.
Weekdays and Saturdays, Jeri opens at 5 a.m. to catch the people who go to work early. She closes at 2 p.m. (3 p.m. on Saturdays) after serving lunch. On Sundays her hungry customers have to wait in line to get a seat between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
But any time you arrive during operating hours, you'll get a hearty breakfast. Jeri offers a special each day, although her flexible staff will whip up your favorite whenever you drop by.
The staff consists of thirteen people who have been in Jeri's employ for a long time especially the chef, Jose, who has been with her for 24 years. They're a well-coordinated team and help each other out. Jeri has personally filled in at every chore.
Jeri takes great pride in her coffee shop and is assisted by her son Eric, who, as a partner, shares the responsibilities of running the operation together with Jeri's "significant other," Tom, who is always around to lend a hand.
The only time the Way Station doors were shut was after the 1994 earthquake but by the following Friday, with the help of family and staff, they were back in business.
An unusual collection of old license plates from all over the country and the world including Antarctica enhances the ambience of the place, as do other memorabilia given to her by returning patrons.
Near the back of the restaurant, an old jukebox is a reminder of the days when dining was an experience typified by a caring proprietorship and modest prices for quality food. This feeling is so evident at the Way Station that over the years, many movie companies have filmed the interior as a representative small-town American diner.
Illustrating the success of her business, Jeri figures that she uses 900 pounds of coffee and thirty dozen eggs a week in her generous helpings that keep bringing customers back sometimes from one generation to the next.
"My customers and staff are my greatest assets," Jeri says with a big smile. "I'm very proud of my business!"
She anxiously awaits the opening of the Metrolink station, which will enable busy commuters to stop at the Way Station for a hearty breakfast before hopping on the train and heading off to work.