Antioch Iconic Hazel’s Drive-In Up for Sale

By Sean Tongson

Photo by Sean Tongson

Hazel’s Drive In, a popular diner firmly entrenched in the City of Antioch and surrounding communities for decades as a local icon, has been put up for sale.

The locally famous diner, located on West 10th Street in the northern part of Antioch, is not planned to close and is intended to continue operating in its current capacity.

“The current owners are retiring and moving out of state,” said CEO of Intero Commercial Matt Hagar. “We have no buyers yet; we’re on the open market.”

Photo provided by Matt Hagar

Opening in 1947, Hazel’s is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Antioch. Hazel Francis was the original owner and her daughters Candy Francis and Lila Martinez in 2003 had sold the diner to Sam and Frances Khalili.

Over 70 years later, with its nostalgic feel and their iconic, one pound “Willy Burger” (named after founder Hazel’s grandson), Hazel’s has become a local favorite and an Antioch staple, having established itself as one of the premier burger restaurants in the area. Many residents and customers speak warmly about Hazel’s being a popular hangout spot and gathering place for friends and families over the years, along with their delicious food, which features a variety of burgers and sandwiches, fries, and shakes.

“Hazel’s offers a unique dining experience with an old-school feel, and their linguica sandwich is to die for,” exclaimed former Antioch resident Charlie Miller. “Put some extra pickles on that thing and dip it in ranch, and you’ve got yourself a sandwich!”

Added customer Brandon Mayfield, “Still hands down one of the best burger joints in the area! People want that fine cuisine but don’t realize it’s the hole-in-the-wall locations that provide that nostalgic ambiance reminiscent of a time soon to be forgotten.”

Local resident Bryce Perez speaks about his love for Hazel’s iconic “Willy Burger”, and being able to share the experiences he enjoyed as a kid with his own family.

Photo by Charlie Miller

“I’ve been going there since the late 80’s,” said Perez. “Back then it was the Hazel burger that used to do the trick. As I got older, I graduated to the Willy, and then the double Willy! I took my children there a few months ago and they each had a ‘red river’ (strawberry soda) along with their Hazel burgers. I had to show them what the Willy was all about. They were amazed at the size of it (bigger than my son’s head). It brought back a lot of memories to be there. We also used to have unofficial team lunches there before football games in high school.”

While word of Hazel’s going up for sale prompted initial concerns of the restaurant permanently closing or going under some kind of overhaul or face-lift, customers can be assured that the plan is for Hazel’s to remain open and continue to operate as is under the new ownership.

The one pound “Willy Burger”

“I feel that Hazel’s is a very unique diner with a unique selection of food,” said Brentwood resident Roberto Flores. “It also has a lot of history and is one of those rare gems in the city. I’ve had their Willy burger and that’s something you don’t see in most diners (it’s huge!). Antioch wouldn’t be the same without Hazel’s. I’m glad it’s still open and that there are no plans to close it.”

Added Hagar, “It will most likely be a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of thing. Business is still thriving and still going strong, and there are no hiccups. It’s very popular, it’s a local icon, and people have been going here for generations. It’s been a staple in the community for a long, long time.”

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  1. I hope that part of the condition of the sale is that nothing changes! Not one thing! Friends from Moraga, Orinda, Crockett and Pleasanton have made a trip to Hazel’s and raved about it to no end. I have intrepidations that Hazel’s, as we know it will fall into the wrong hands…. and Hazel’s, as we know it, will be no more. Pity!

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