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Help Save Johnie's Broiler

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A post from the Vintage Americana Club:


Johnie's Broiler, the oldest drive-in restaurant in California and a beautiful example of Googie architecture, is in danger.

A legendary cruising spot in my hometown of Downey, CA, Johnie's has been immortalized in celluloid more than I can possibly remember and even found its way
into one of Tom Wolfe's early novels. Johnie's (formerly Harvey's) was built in
1958 and enjoyed robust business until the past ten years, when business slowly declined until many people forgot about this important landmark.

It closed down as a restaurant in December 2001 and has been reopened as a used car dealership. The new lessors are gutting the place and its distinctive architecture is compromised.

Downey-based rockabilly band The Blasters is hosting a benefit to help save Johnie's on October 30. Meantime, there's an online petition that I encourage you to sign and a letter you can print out and mail urging the owners to restore Johnie's to its former splendor.

Please take a moment and visit the website
http://www.johniesbroiler.org to learn more. The gallery includes photos of Johnie's in its prime and recent pictures which show the sorry shape the restaurant is in today.

This place is amazing and I want to encourage everyone to sign the online petition! I'm sure lots of you have seen this place or live near it!

If I just saw correctly, the place has been bulldozed. Illegally apparently.
No permits, and the property owners are under investigation for saftey violations.

If I saw correctly, this is a sad day.


Yeah, I just caught something on the news about that. Sad.

Yes, you can read all about it here:

I just read up on all of this. I had never heard of the place previously, but learning about this now, I am really saddened. I like to see all types of old buildings preserved, to at least see examples from different eras, but seeing googie go away is a very bad thing.

Johnie's and the Lava Lounge were two places I'd hoped to visit in LA during a trip a year and a half ago. As I was lamenting that I should have moved them higher on the list and skipped something else, I remembered that "something else" might have been Sam's Seafood or Trader Vic's.

From a distant perspective, it looks like a lot is being lost out there. Is this perception correct, given the total amount of tiki and googie stuff in LA, or is it skewed because demolitions and closings make news?

The location is going to become a Bob's Big Boy and save some of the remaining architectural elements that are still there.


Former Johnie Broiler/New Bob's Big Boy may open next month...

Inside So Cal-Canalis Report

Built from the original 1958 plans of Harvey's Broiler, the predecessor to Johnie's, the 185-seat Big Boy will closely resemble the Googie restaurant.

TikiG posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 2:08 PM

I was absolutely livid when I watched the destruction on the morning news a couple of years ago. I thought the city was going to save it..then BAM! Gone.

The original building was a hot topic around LA before the closing. The LA Conservancy/MODCOM group was very keen on saving this building if I remember correctly..town hall meetings and all that.

I do remember not much was saved of the building itself. I remember a news photo showing a leveled parking lot. I believed the original huge, iconic neon sign was destroyed too but I must be wrong about that after reading this latest news.

Another classic example of faux pas..I mean destroying the original only to replace it with a plastic version and vision. I'm guilty for not supporting the local grass roots efforts to save this place, but I do have personal crusades from time to time saving our nation's traditional amusement parks, especially the mere handful of classic wooden roller-coasters still standing - my first priority.

I do love Bobs Big Boy and I applaud the new owner/ city committee/ federal grant money ($900,000!!?!) to restore all that's good with Harvey's/ Johnie's Broiler. Great story and I hope an inspiration for other communities around America with similar situations.

I'd hope (as others must feel too) the first round of ground beef served is in the form of 'Yanik Burgers'. Pass the Pepto will 'ya?!
Thanks for posting!

The former Johnie's Broiler is now open as Bob's

Downey Patriot: Bob's Big Boy


Looking good, Bobs, looking good!

Will have to pay the new Bobs a visit soon...

Thanks for posting!


Tomorrow(Wednesday) marks the first official cruise night. I'm going to try to get the Lincoln out there and celebrate the Inauguration. Lots of hotrods and kustoms expected to show up, as this day has been anticipated by many for a very long time!

I tried to take my Grandmother for lunch over there today and it was too freaking crowded!!

I've been following this story on the HAMB. What a great story. I'd love to go, but I'm not sure the '59 is up for the 6,000 mile round-trip. :lol:

Tranny leak= no go for me.....Sucks, because I really wanted to attend this one. Ahh well, i'll look at the pics on the hamb..

we should have a get together there.


Bob's 1st Anniversary Car Show
Saturday, October 16 · 10:00am - 4:00pm

Bob's Big Boy Broiler

Bob's Big Boy Broiler is featured in a photo layout in Rod and Custom Magazine

Made it to 2 Wednesday night cruises at the Broiler in 2011. What an amazing job they did restoring the place. Can't wait to get back there in November.

Tenth aniversary of the illegal destruction of Harvey’s Broiler (later Johnie’s Broiler then reborn as Bob's Big Boy Broiler).


[ Edited by: King Bushwich the 33rd 2017-01-09 15:42 ]

Charles Phoenix tells the story of the destruction of Harvey's/Johnie's and the rise of Bob's Big Boy.

YouTube: Charles Phoenix at Bob's Big Boy Broiler

So I was watching Earth Girls are Easy (1989) on an HBO channel where they have one scene where they are driving by Johnies Broiler.

Pages: 1 22 replies