Hilltop Cafe lays plans for 65th anniversary

Sisters Sandie Parley (left) and Andrea Zaiser recently bought the Hilltop and plan a celebration on May 22 to mark the 65th anniversary of the Fraser Highway diner.

The Hilltop Cafe is where you’re served history with your burger and fries.

The popular diner has survived ownership changes and lows in the economy and, tucked in between a used-car dealership and an RV lot, the diner hasn’t changed that much since it opened its doors 65 years ago at 23904 Fraser Hwy.

In March, Andrea Zaiser and her sister, Sandie Parley, bought the Hilltop Cafe which over the years has gained a reputation for its fabulous pies, mountain high burgers, all-day breakfasts, welcoming ambience, and location for a number of films.

They plan to put their own special stamp on the Hilltop Cafe, and plan to celebrate the milestone anniversary on Saturday, May 22  from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They will have two birthday celebration items — an all-day breakfast consisting of bacon, two fresh eggs, and toast for $3.99, and their burger and home-cut fries special from 11. a.m. to 2:30 p.m., also for $3.99. Customers can enjoy a slice of birthday cake on the house.

The event promises to offer a healthy serving of nostalgia in a diner which has altered little since it opened in 1946. Just inside the entrance is a collage of photos of people, mostly men, who have successfully consumed the Everest Burger, a long-time menu favourite consisting of three five-ounce burger patties, with bacon, mozzarella, cheddar, ham and farmer sausage. It sells for $19.95.

Parley’s son, Kris, is the cook. She helps in the kitchen and the front counter, while Zaiser does “a little bit of everything,” including the paperwork.

The cafe has been seen in many movies and television shows, including The X-Files, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Butterfly Effect and Smallville.

Investing in the businesses was a giant leap of faith for the sisters.

“It was like diving off the deep end into a pool we didn’t know,” said Zaiser.

They found it challenging at first, “but we wouldn’t change it for the world. We’re having a blast.”

She credits Sandie and Kris for the way the business continues to grow.

“I’m a very lucky woman to have Sandie and Kris believe in me that much,” she said, adding that one of the goals is to take the Hilltop Cafe back to its roots: The ‘40s. That means a change in music to swing, big band and jazz. The rodeo posters and baseball hats are slowly disappearing.

That ambience will be a delight to oldtimers who love to sit and reminisce, and younger customers and those unfamiliar with the cafe. And although the business is re-creating the atmosphere of the ‘40s, it’s on Twitter and Facebook where customers can find out the day’s specials.

These don’t contain deli meats. The beef and turkey are roasted in the kitchen where the soups, hand-cut fires, burgers and those famous pies — lemon meringue, banana cream and coconut  cream pies — are made.

The Hilltop Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Zaiser and Parley hope to extend those hours so that the cafe opens at 6 a.m.