Our Country Dining Heritage
Celebrating over 50 years of Bakersfield’s top buffet, banquet, and catering services since 1967
Our heritage made us who we are today. The 1917 flu epidemic swept across our great land, and the Bartel family lost their mother. It was during this time that “Mom Hodel” (Lydia Bartel Hodel) was only eleven years old, the oldest of nine children; she took over the cooking, cleaning, and bottle washing for the household. From this early experience, she lived a life of service to others, gaining satisfaction from a day’s hard work.
At the age of sixteen, the family escaped the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma in 1921, so moving to California was a natural choice. As a teenager, Lydia became employed by the Kern County Land Company, and cooked for their hay harvesting crews; she also worked at Hall’s Creamery, a 75-cow dairy. In the mid to late 1920’s, she and her sisters became the domestic help in Bakersfield. Sarah Bartel Kliewer worked in Taft at the Leaven C Boarding House but eventually began working for Dr. Gunry, a medical doctor. Lydia Hodel Wiebe, mother’s soon to be sister in law, used to work for the Weill’s Family, a large Bakersfield retailer whose house is now known as the Guild House.
The White House Connection to Bakersfield
Lydia Bartel Hodel (Mom) went to work for Arthur S. Crites, a property investor and Mr. Crites, an accomplished chef himself, sensed her natural cooking abilities. He taught her practical techniques, which produced exceptionally delicious meals. He also had political connections in the Calvin Coolidge administration. In fact, some of Mom’s first recipes originated from the White House Chef!
The Crites house at 1005 Oleander relocated, but if you go to 21st & H streets and look up at the top of a building, you’ll see, “Arthur S. Crites, Building 1927.” The Crites and Hodel families continued a friendship for many years. In 1928 Sam Hodel and Lydia Bartel were married in Bakersfield during The Great Depression. But that didn’t stop Mom Hodel from getting a job with the Gettle family in Bakersfield. Eventually, the Gettles moved to Beverly Hills and offered Sam a job as a chauffeur only if Mom Hodel would be the cook. It was during this time that Mom Hodel produced many meals for their family and distinguished guests including the founder of J.C. Penney. A beautiful friendship between the children of these families continues to this day.
Mom’s First Career
After working various jobs in the Los Angeles area, the family moved back to Bakersfield because of Beverly’s health in 1942. A ranch at the corner of Nord and Brimhall roads was their new home for eight years and in 1946 Sam Hodel had an accident. Mom Hodel went back to work as the manager of the new Greeley School Cafeteria. She provided a lunch with such quality and taste that none of the 140 students brought a sack lunch from home. After 21 years of service, she retired and was given a lifetime PTA membership. When they presented her with this gift, the statement was made:
“Frankly, Mrs. Hodel, we are glad you are retiring. We are tired of our children coming home from school and asking us why the food at home isn’t as good as the food at school!”
She retired in the spring of 1967 and began her “second” career at Hodel’s in Valley Plaza.
In every way, she desired to more than satisfy the customers. She always sought to make the food fresh and full of flavor, with the “hot food hot, and the cold food cold!”
Mom’s standard of quality from her humble beginnings inspire us daily.
We view each customer as family.
Mom Hodel worked a full shift in the kitchen until she was eighty-two years old. In June of 1968 Hodel’s Olive Drive opened and during the next decade, we developed several other Hodel’s Restaurants. Currently, Hodel’s is a multi-faceted operation at Olive Drive in Bakersfield. Californians everywhere, and those from coast-to-coast are part of a strong local following of Hodel’s fine, flavorful food. The restaurant provides many organizations and groups a quiet and pleasant atmosphere with exceptional service.
The Ultimate Gratitude
We are thankful for our heritage and firmly believe that our successes come from a personal God. We continually seek His blessings on our endeavors.
Our Restaurant History
Bob Hodel’s first restaurant! And it still stands today!
Bob Hodel purchased “the cookery” coffee shop in 1967!
In 1970, we added the “Market Room” for more dining!
During the late 1970’s and 80’s, we added the “Plant and Gift” store.
Moreover, its rustic, natural look lasted until the 90’s!
We remodeled seven times, but we never closed our doors!
No more cedar, western look.
We added our country dining theme!
We replaced old, wood shingles and added two new banquet rooms!
Our New Roof!
Hodel’s Country Dining 2000 to the present!