BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Clay's Restaurant has been a staple on the corner of California Avenue and Eye Street in downtown Bakersfield, but now the owners are saying goodbye to the location they called home for 35 years.
On Nov. 14, thousands of needy families packed into Clay's for a free Thanksgiving dinner, but this year would be the last.
"We are very thankful that God just said, 'OK now is the time,'" said Annie Hutchings, whose parents own the restaurant. "They basically paid their last PG&E bill, and they didn't lose anything."
After 35 years, pushing 80 years old, working seven days a week, 15 hours a day, Hutchings said it was time for her parents, Victor and Isabel Romero, to take a break.
"My mom finally put her foot down," said Hutchings. "It's time for us to slow down. My dad has been a little, 'I don't know about this,' but she made it happen. She said, 'I'm done.'"
Clay's was a place those in need could rely on. In addition to serving Thanksgiving dinner, they also had a meal during the month of December.
Hutchings said her family served about 30,000 meals over 22 years.
It's a tradition that will not continue at Christmas -- at least this year.
"My dad, even last night said, 'You need to make this happen,'" said Hutchings. "I don't know if
i I can make it happen to be honest. "It's a pretty big project with a small-time frame."
Hutchings said while the California Avenue location is no longer there, there is another one where the community can fine the same food, the same service and the same family.
"It's not downtown, but it's down the street a little bit.," said Hutchings.
Clay's Restaurant is at 1500 Wible Road.