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

Tamanawis boys repeat as B.C. high school wrestling champs

Sehijvir Sandhu and Karanpreet Gill earn gold medals for the Surrey team

OUR VIEW: Be vigilant when looking for love

Surrey Mounties say they’re seeing increase in sexual assault complaints related to people meeting after using online dating apps

MINTY: It’s never too late to create, as these Surrey seniors show

Pacifica Never Too Late Art Collective members are ‘late bloomers’ with works shown at Newton gallery

Storm, Totems win South Fraser senior girls basketball titles

South Surrey hoops teams now prepare for provincial championships in Langley

North Delta’s Brandon Bassi honoured in throne speech

Former NDSS Huskies captain died in following a car crash in Surrey on May 18, 2019

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

B.C. budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Woman arrested in Cariboo after fuel stolen, police car rammed

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

Most Read