Little did Maurice and Wilma Staudinger know on
that day in 1975 when they went looking for carpeting for their new house that they would
buy a restaurant instead of carpeting. But that's exactly what happened! They had
some restaurant experience having owned an A & W Root Beer restaurant in Lake Tahoe some years before.
In the early days, the restaurant was open for breakfast and lunch and only served dinner during the summer season. In the winter months, the restaurant served dinner for private parties.
Maurice Staudinger, before his untimely death in 1995, was the official greeter of the restaurant, welcoming customers and telling jokes. He established the homey feeling of the restaurant which continues today.
Every Sunday when St. Vinnaey's Catholic Church across the street finishes services, the congregation pours out into Wilma's for Sunday breakfast. In fact, the restaurant was getting so packed on Sunday morning that people were sneaking out for the service early to make sure they'd get a table. In desperation, the Monsignor locked the doors, but when he learned the Staudingers were originally farm people from his hometown state of Colorado they all became friends.
"I think our success is due to our efforts to provide good quality food, good service and to our highly visible family talking to people and making our customers feel they belong. These are things you usually don't get when you go out," said daughter Sheri Drewry.
The family is very supportive of the local police and fire departments and their charities and are active participants in the strong neighborly atmosphere of Balboa Island.
Through the excellence of it's service, Wilma's Patio has contributed to the tourism of Balboa Island. "When we first started, a lot of people found us when they found Balboa Island, but now when people come here, they find Balboa Island," Drewry stated proudly.
In 1997 the restaurant moved down the street and merged with the Jolly Dolphin, which was the original site of the Jolly Roger Restaurant.
For a Photo Gallery depicting the history and events at Wilma's click here.