Goldie Springenatic began running the Round-Up Cafe with her husband Orest in the 50s. She loves it just as much today as she did all those decades ago. (Photos: AMY REID and SURREY ARCHIVES)

WHALLEY’S CORNER: Surrey’s Round-Up Café takes you back in time

PART THREE: Iconic Surrey diner doesn't look or feel much different than it did when it opened in the 1940s

EDITOR’S NOTE: In our special series Waking up Whalley’s Corner, we are sharing stories from the area around 108th Avenue and King George Boulevard. In the weeks ahead, we will delve into its struggles, its triumphs and what lies ahead.

SURREY — Stepping into the Round-Up Café is almost like walking back in time.

The eatery, just north of 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard, is about as close to a time warp as you can get in the Surrey of today, offering up an authentic 1940s diner feel.

Lime green bar stools with sparkly tops match the black, white, and green tiles on the wall. A lemon meringue pie and other goodies sit in a transparent display case just as you walk in the door.

Some historic photos of Whalley Little League line the walls, even though the owner will tell you there’s far fewer than there used to be. But it’s not just the décor that is reminiscent of an American classic.


As one reviewer wrote on YellowPages, the food is “just like Grandma used to make.”

Until stumbling upon the diner, they said they couldn’t find anywhere in Surrey that served up “good old-fashioned homecooked greasy spoon diner fare.”

Goldie Springenatic began running the place with her husband Orest in 1959 and by then it had already been open for about 10 years.

“It looked pretty much the way it does today,” Goldie recalled with a chuckle.

round-up cafe surrey

The menu hasn’t changed much, either, she said affectionately.

“We just can’t seem to bust out of it, because this is what our clients want,” she said.

They’ve tried to introduce lasagna or pizza, but as Goldie put it, “it don’t sell.”

“They want the Salisbury and liver, chili and garlic toast, clubhouse and of course, we specialize in Ukrainian food.”

Before getting into the restaurant biz all those decades ago, Orest worked for CN Railway and Goldie in an employment office.

One day, the railway restaurant in Boston Bar posted a job looking for new management.

They took the leap into that for a few reasons, said Goldie, one of which was that they were tired of her husband’s job taking him out of town.

So there they were, embracing a completely new venture in life – running someone’s restaurant. And as Goldie puts in, “We done good for them.”

But after becoming frustrated with the owners about five years in, Goldie said she’d had enough.

“I said to my husband, ‘If you want to stay here, you stay. But that’s it for me.’ I picked up the paper and I saw this place advertised.

“We had no money,” she recalled. “I had a friend in Chilliwack, she was a dressmaker. I helped her with her shop when she was setting it up… She just gave us the money.”

So they picked up and moved to Surrey, beginning a new adventure in life in a new town. Their two boys were two and four at the time.

“It was busy,” she said of the diner when they first arrived. “It was very hard. Very hard…. We were open 24 hours at that time. We were 24 hours for years.”

She said the couple hardly left the building because it was so busy.

“I worked days, Orest worked nights. It wasn’t an easy road but it was good. We always enjoyed it.”

Back then, after the pubs would close, the after-the-bar crowds would flock to the 24-hour establishment.

“It would be absolutely jam packed in here. Of course we had some bad people come. My husband, he handled it pretty good.

“He kept a baseball bat behind the counter,” she continued, chuckling as she pointed over to the cash register.

About 20 years ago, the 24-hour service stopped and they now close at 5 p.m.

“We just got tired of it,” she explained. “Enough’s enough, we said. We were always busy on the night shift.”

But Goldie has many humorous stories of those night crowds. She couldn’t stop laughing as she told one tale.

As in any restaurant, they’ve had their fair share of customers run out on bills, she said.

“But this one night four girls had eaten and ran on their bill. My husband, he jumped in his car and of course he goes around the block and here they are down the road hitch hiking. He stopped and picked them up.

round-up cafe surrey

“They got driving a bit and one of the girls says, ‘That’s him! That’s him!’ He said, ‘Guess girls, where I’m taking you? I’m taking you to the cop station.’

“Oh, there’s been some good times,” she continued, smiling. “The good with the bad, and carry on.”

So is the Round-Up’s end near?

“Well I just have to make a phone call. They’re waiting for us,” she said with a chuckle.

But she doesn’t see herself selling the place anytime soon; it’s too close to her heart.

“No, not really. It’s here if I need to or want to,” Goldie said. “But I still come here most every day, and I love it. I just love it.”

NEXT IN SERIES: We focus on the challenges of the strip and what RCMP are doing about them.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Missing man found

‘Family and police are concerned for his wellbeing at this time’

Police investigating shooting in North Delta

Police say occupants of two vehicles exchanged gunfire near 120th Street and 82nd Avenue

TransLink CEO asks riders not to enforce mask rules after Surrey bus punch-up

A fight broke out on a bus at 96 Avenue and Scott Road involving a man who refused to wear a mask

Defence in Fraser Valley chicken abuse cases asks BC Supreme Court to drop the charges

Sofina Foods and Chilliwack company say undercover video by ‘vigilante group’ violates Charter rights

Surrey’s Johnston Heights reporting COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read