Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Tiki Central logo
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Red Shepherd's Waikiki, El Centro, CA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 18 replies

Name:Red Shepherd's Waikiki
Street:609 N Imperial Ave
City:El Centro

I'm not much of an urban archeologist but I someone told me about these photos posted on Facebook. It was a car-hop drive-in, looks like it was operational as early as the early 50s and by 1969 it had been torn down and a Sambos built there. A friend (born 1959) remembers the place from the mid sixties but said his mom wouldn't let them eat there because the car hops wore hula skirts

[ Edited by: MadDogMike 2011-09-11 12:32 ]

Cool find Mad Dog Mike. Here is a little better scan of the photo showing the logo - Red Shepherd, the 10 cent Hamburger King!

Apparently there was another Waikiki Drive-In located in Holtville. A few mentions I found on the web:

RECIPE FOR SUICIDE — I don't know what they put in at the Brawley drug fountain to make the Brawley Fountain Suicide but I know what we put in the Waikiki Suicide. We put a squirt of all our milkshake syrups, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cherry into a cola to make our "suicide."

When I was a car hop we made this concoction at the Waikiki and the Twin Barrels drive-ins in Brawley. Remember, those were the days when you could order a cherry, vanilla or chocolate Coke at most fountains. I also worked at Red Shepherd's Waikiki drive-ins in El Centro and Holtville.

Visiting Red Shepherd’s “Waikiki Drive-In” was another fun thing to do. The waitresses wore grass skirts.

Would be nice to see smoe more photos of the car hop[s in the grass skirts.


MDM & DC, very cool indeed. I found this matchbook cover on eBay that seems to belong here...


Thank you DC & TikiTom. Appearently that photo was an ad from the local high school yearbook, seems the place was a big hit with the car cruising scene. From the 1956 yearbook:
Nickname:"Shorty" Usually Found: Waikiki Drive-In. Weakness. Earrings and shoes.

June 27, 1953 IV Press: The "hamburger king" of the Imperial Valley, Red Shepherd, today opened his newly remodeled Twin Barrels drive-in at the corner of Second and Main streets in Brawley. Shepherd has gained prominence for his successful operations of the Waikiki drive-in just north of "Four Corners" in El Centro

August 10, 1960 IV Press: Well-known Valley restaurant operator Red Shepherd and his wife, Terry, are greeting friends at their newly opened Shepherd’s Restaurant, 1510 Adams, in El Centro. Shepherd, who has operated five eating establishments in Imperial County since he moved here from Ft. Worth, Texas, in June 1948, opened the doors of the new restaurant Aug. 9.

Life as a Dance (autobiography - Rick McManus) "But who could resist the Waikiki Drive-In restaurant at Adams and Imperial where the waitresses wore grass skirts and skated out to the cars? Pulling in there and observing the laughing, yelling kids in cars all around me, I stayed long enough to order a chololate malt and then to drink it quickly."

Ad from 1948 Police and Peace Officer's Journal of California
We Cater to Private Parties.

My dad says the rumor was Red Shepherd came into town in a Cadillac convertible with a dollar in his pocket and turned it into small forture.

The Waikiki filed corporation papers December 30, 1959. I'll try to hit the old phone books at the library to see if I can tell what years they operated.

Be good to yourself and to the ones you love

[ Edited by: MadDogMike 2011-09-11 12:29 ]

Saw this menu on ebay. Looks like there was another Waikiki Drive In located in El Cajon, San Diego.


Thanks DC. Sheppard owned several restaurants in the area, El Cajon is about 100 miles from El Centro so that's not too much of a stretch. Similar menu items too, maybe it was the same guy? This menu from the El Cajon Waikiki is dated 1951, the El Centro Waikiki opened in 1953 so the time frame is right too.

1958 Yellow Pages ad


Here is a matchbook from the El Cajon Waikiki Drive-In.


But wait, there's more. It appears that there was also a Waikiki Drive-In located in Brawley as seen on this photo from ebay.

And a color postcard from the El Centro location, also on ebay.

I also read an article that said: "Visiting Red Shepherd’s “Waikiki Drive-In” was another fun thing to do. The waitresses wore grass skirts."


Thanks Dusty. Looks like the Brawley location building is long gone, here's the current location

My Mom worked at Red Shepherds Waikiki in El Centro in 1953. She met my Dad, a handsome Navy Man (stationed in El Centro. She wore a grass skirt, plastic leis and rollerskates. Does anyone remember her. Her name was Margie L. Vassar. She was petite with long black hair and tanned skin, size 1 or 2. Let me know. She passed away in 1979 and my Dad's recent passing brought me to this search.

Hi Ibelinski. Sorry I can't help you, she worked there 5 years before I was born. No one else from the Tiki Central forum lives in this area so you're not to likely to get much more info. Good luck with your search. If you find any photos of her at the Waikiki be sure to post them here.

Recently came across a new undated photo that shows nice detail of the front

Nice photo MadDog. Here is an old ashtray that advertises the Chuck Wagon Luaus at Red's Waikiki Drive In.


Only 10 bucks on eBay. Chuckwagon Luau, that's an interesting combination!

According to this truck, Red Shepherd also had a Waikiki restaurant in Holtville, a small nearby town
Red Shpherd


Wow, I live only about four blocks from the El Cajon Blvd. location. Sure wish it were there now.

Cool arriano! Did you move from Birdland?

Yeah, moved a few years ago to Talmadge

Pages: 1 18 replies