The 1960s decor, world famous pies and even the chair where George H. W. Bush once sat will all remain, but one of Turlock’s most-beloved restaurants now has a new owner — and kind of a new name.
Latif’s by Pedretti — formerly known as Latif’s Restaurant — was recently purchased by Turlock native Nick Pedretti, who former owner Bob Stevens says he’s “passing the torch” to in good faith. Stevens has been a part of Latif’s since 1981, working in the restaurant first under his parents, Jim and Shirley Stevens, and eventually partnering with them before becoming the sole owner in 1997.
He decided to sell the restaurant and retire to his new home in Twain Harte after commuting to Latif’s for the past two years.
“I had other buyers, but I really believe in Nick and the Pedretti family. They’re about as well-known as anybody in this town,” Stevens said.
Pedretti will be the third family name to take over Latif’s since it opened in June of 1960, and he said he’s eager — and nervous — to take over the famed restaurant after serving as the downtown Dust Bowl taproom’s general manager for nearly nine years.
“I loved my previous job, but I decided this was probably the time to work on my own. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time,” Pedretti said. “They were looking for someone who had been in town for a long time and had been coming here their whole life. I don’t want to change it up too much, just update it a little bit and try to get some extra crowd in here.”
Stevens’ entire staff stayed on to work under Pedretti, and the former owner will be on hand for the next couple of weeks to help his successor handle the enormity of the restaurant’s Thanksgiving pie orders. Turlockers and out-of-towners alike will be glad to hear their favorite pies are still up for grabs, and the nostalgic decor of the decades-old diner will remain as well — right down to the jukebox.
So far there are just a few changes other than the new name, including some big screen TVs, new menu items and, soon, beer and wine.
Pedretti said the restaurant’s longtime patrons made it clear: Don’t change a thing.
“Just after being here for a couple weeks talking to everybody and hearing how much they love it the way it is, 100 percent I wanted to keep it the same,” he said. “We want to keep it original, but have a new little swing on it.”
Stevens knows the future of the diner is in good hands.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions. I’m proud that (Pedretti) is taking it over and it’s still going to remain the same,” Stevens said. “He’s going to do the things he needs to do to continue its success, but at the same time he won’t compromise the traditions that have been a mainstay in Turlock for 60 years. It’s a perfect fit, I believe.”
Soon, the words “Family Dining” underneath the iconic Latif’s sign will be replaced with “by Pedretti,” ushering in a new era for the longtime Turlock establishment. Looking back at his tenure as an employee, partner then owner, Stevens reflected on what the past 38 years have meant to him.
“I’m going to miss all my customers and I just want to say thank you to the community for the support of Latif’s for 60 years and for the 38 that I was there,” he said. “I’m going to miss my employees; they’re all like family for me. I’ll be down all the time poking my head in, helping with this and helping with that...I’m not washing my hands of Turlock by any means.”
Pedretti is looking forward to adding his legacy to the small list of Latif’s owners.
“It’s definitely a little scary and I’m a little nervous, but it’s nice to have the family and everybody here to support me,” Pedretti said. “It should work out well.”