Esotouric invites you to celebrate one of the most unlikely happy endings in Southern California historic preservation: the restoration of the partially demolished Harvey’s Broiler (Paul B. Clayton, 1958) as Bob’s Big Boy (2009). This event is one of a series of 10th anniversary special event happenings through 2017.
For decades, Harvey’s Broiler (later Johnie’s Broiler) on Firestone Boulevard was one of the key stops on the Los Angeles County hot rod and cruising circuit, memorably featured in Tom Wolfe’s essay “The Hair Boys.” But the drive-in shut in 2001 and the large property became a used car lot. Local preservationists from the L.A. Conservancy’s ModCom and the newly formed Friends of Johnie’s campaigned to get Harvey’s listed on the California State historic registry and kept a wary eye on the deteriorating building.
Then on the afternoon of Sunday, January 7, 2007, the tenant began to illegally demolish the drive-in, without permits or even shutting off the electricity. As night fell, eagle eyed preservationists were on the case, calling local police, politicians and television news stations and halting the demolition—but not before the east side of this a stunning Googie masterpiece was a pile of rubble. And so began a hair-raising seven-year journey to restoration and reopening of this great Downey landmark as a Bob’s Big Boy drive-in.
Come celebrate the tenth anniversary of the death of Harvey’s Broiler and the beginning of its second life with members of Friends of Johnie’s and ModCom, architect and historian Alan Hess, local historians and neon aficionados. A Big Boy burger and fries are just $4.99, and the good fellowship is priceless.