Saturday 11 August, 2012

Historical Hamburgers: Downey’s McDonald’s, Big Boy


Not that I feel the need to promote the world's biggest "restaurant" chain, but it's always interesting to see the origins of such a huge empire. So on a recent trip to Downey, CA (south of LA), I revisited the oldest existing original McDonald's--the building design which gave it the nickname "The Golden Arches." It is actually the third McDonald's (the second in this iconic design), but still old enough to pre-date Ray Kroc's McDonald's corporation. Next door, there's a tiny museum of McDonald's artifacts, both private and public, and a huge vintage sign is also there (though its 500 Million claim means it obviously isnt as old as the original restaurant).

The first time I visited here a few years ago, they served the food in vintage-style wrappers. Now it's just the same food and same packaging as any other McD's. Even the crappy excuse for milkshakes that they now make.

A few miles away on the southern border of Downey, what was once a Johnnie's Broiler has been restored/remodeled into an iconic Bob's Big Boy Broiler (say that five times fast!) through a cooperation between the Big Boy corporation, the City of Downey and the Los Angeles Conservancy. The 4B is so pristine it even overshadows the classic Toluca Lake Big Boy in the realm of googie dinerdom. Heck, the Big Boy on the roof even rotates. See their Facebook page for special vintage car drive-in nights.

Downey McDonald's on Yelp

Bob's Big Boy Broiler on Facebook