Wilma Staudinger, who helped create Wilma's Patio restaurant on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, died Friday. She was 85.
Wilma's Patio, known for its hearty breakfasts, reflected the matriarch's belief in the importance of family, according to a news release. Her children, who were with her when she died, worked there, as did her husband, Maurice, who died in 1995, according to the restaurant's website.
The idea for the restaurant germinated in the mid-1970s, when Staudinger was trying to pick tile and carpet for her new Irvine home with her husband, whom she met in the farming town of Kersey, Colo., where she was born.
While trying to decide what to choose, the pair ate lunch at Van's Belgian Waffle House on Balboa Island, learned it was for sale and bought it, according to the release.
An initial attempt to start a restaurant there in 1975 did not do well, though Staudinger had work experience at a bakery and an A&W restaurant in Lake Tahoe, according to the release. But the couple later remodeled the space, which became Wilma's Patio in 1982.
Staudinger retired from daily management of the restaurant in 2007. She lived in Newport Beach.
— Emily Foxhall