Golden Eagle Diner in Bristol Borough to get new owner, keep menu
Huseyin Gunaydin is ready for retirement.
“Age has gotten me. Life is too short. I am getting old and I can’t work anymore,” said Gunaydin, owner of the Golden Eagle Diner and Restaurant in Bristol Borough.
For 35 years, he worked seven days a week at the 400-seat 24-hour restaurant at 300 Bath Road and Route 13. But Monday morning he will hand over the keys.
It’s a long wait for the 75-year-old Turkish immigrant and father of three, who said he had been trying to sell the restaurant for 10 years before finding a buyer in longtime family friend, Fahri Ekiz.
“I am a restaurant man. He’s also a restaurant man,” Gunaydin said. “This guy is going to be fine.”
Since arriving in the United States in 1972 at the age of 24, Gunaydin went from dishwasher to short-term cook, baker to kitchen manager before finally saving enough money to buy his first restaurant.
“I worked 72 hours a week, which earned me $82 a week. I wanted to work hard. I saved my money,” Gunaydin recalls.
For Gunaydin, owning a restaurant was a way to bring his wife and sons to the United States. But it quickly became a passion.
“I like my job, even if it’s hard work. I get up, I want to come in here. I don’t take a day off,” Gunaydin said. “When people say, ‘Thank you. I had a good lunch, that makes me happy.
With a partner, Gunaydin bought his first restaurant in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, in 1982. Soon after, they bought the Bristol Queen Diner and renamed it Golden Eagle. In 1986, they decided to separate. His partner took over Cinnaminson’s restaurant and Gunaydin became the sole owner of the Golden Eagle.
Since then, he has been involved in every detail of the business, including going to the Philadelphia Wholesale Market at 3 a.m. twice a week to personally select fresh fruits and vegetables to use in his cooking.
“I’m going to choose good lettuce, good tomatoes, good broccoli, good green beans, good Brussels sprouts. Fees – that’s what you get. I don’t use frozen vegetables or canned vegetables. Everything is 100% fresh,” Gunaydin said.
He said every item on the menu is made on-site from scratch, from French toast and pancake mix to soup stocks and New York-style cheesecakes.
Gunaydin believes this is what sets the Golden Eagle apart from other restaurants and has kept customers coming back over the years.
Henrietta Frederick, from Trevose, compared the food to what she would expect from a ‘good upmarket restaurant’ and said that was why she and her family had been coming to the restaurant for almost three decades.
“It’s the best place in Bucks County. It’s a family business and they have very good food here. The food is fresher and they have very good chefs. We started coming after church on Sundays for dinner, and we come for special occasions,” Frederick said from a blue vinyl booth, as she had lunch with her parents.
“I give good quality food,” Gunaydin said. “Good food, clean place, reasonable prices and fast service – that’s what you need from a restaurant. That’s my philosophy.
It’s a philosophy that has left him with great pride in what he’s built, and something to look back on fondly as he retires. But, he admits, it’s not easy to walk away.
“I will miss my customers,” he said. “As soon as I hand over the keys, it’s going to be a bit hard for me.”
After Monday, the next time Gunaydin enters the Golden Eagle, he will do so as a client. His old restaurant will be under the supervision of Ekiz.
The Golden Eagle will be Ekiz’s fourth restaurant and its first in Pennsylvania. His former restaurants were all in New Jersey: Crystal Diner in Edgewater Park, from 1987 to 1993; the Prestige Diner in East Windsor, from 1993 to 2005; and the Woodstown Diner in Woodstown, from 2007 to 2021.
Ekiz said it plans to keep the same menu and staff on board to continue providing the same high-quality food Golden Eagle customers have come to expect from the restaurant.
“I want it to stay that way as best I can. There is good food. I don’t want to break the consistency,” Ekiz said. “I will try to make sure everyone is happy.”