Rally to save Johnie's broiler


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              02/25/07- When I heard that the current owners of Johnie's Broiler (once "Harvey's
       Broiler" a most popular cruise stop for 50's hotrodders) had illegally demolished the broiler,
   and that a group of concerned hotrodders were organizing a small rally to protest, I signed up.

It appears that the owners, from what I have heard, decided that they could make more money from building a generic mall on that parcel and took it upon themselves (without even bothering to obtain the necessary permits from the city) to have the old broiler bulldozed. Alerted by concerned neighbors, the police showed up just in time to save the main wall and it's landmark sign. The rest of the building, however, was already long gone.

I was surprised to learn that Toluca Lake's Bob's Big Boy, our very Mecca, had come close to suffering a similar fate some years ago. The owners also had wanted to sell it but somehow someone found out what the grim plans of the "new to be" owners were for the building: Demolition (probably to build another high-rise). Fortunately the building was immediately turned into a landmark and was saved that way. Now preserved, it has turned into the highest grossing Bob's  Big Boy restaurant in the country!!! Why should this surprise you? Us hotrodders are always HUNGRY :))

At the light of this discovery, it seemed appropriate that BBB would be the rendez vous starting point for the rally. We all met there early and had breakfast (yes, still hungry) and then had a briefing and the group headed out to Downey. Along the way we revisited the locations of no less than 12 cruise stops from the past, most of which have vanished. We had the map and would look for them but they simply were GONE. In their place, some stupid gas station or a video store or an office building or whatever else progress has decided was more worthy than an old 50's broiler. :(

It was plain sad. An era gone, a part of our heritage and past, forever destroyed . Along the way, we did see a few building still standing, and stopped to pay them the respect they so greatly deserve. The cruise/tour took about three hours, and we all drove together, via surface streets. Sometimes we would get separated, but usually would wait for each other until most of us had cought up with the rest of the gang.


After a long three hour cruise, we finally reached Downey. A grim sight was waiting for us there. My heart sank as I stared at the pile of rubbles that once were Johnie's Broiler. All of it had been demolished, but the sign still stood defiantly, tall, hovering over Firestone blvd, as to declare: I WILL SURVIVE.

We all signed the petition to turn the wounded Broiler into a landmark and have it rebuild and preserved. There were many people there and many cars. Some car clubs also showed up... I think I remember the cavaliers being there, with their radical, slammed down rat rods. Cool. People driving up and down the blvd would honk their horns in support. A few stopped to sign the petition...

I was glad to be there, even though I was really not feeling well that day. I was sick with a stomach flue. Bad stomach cramps lasted the entire day and I also had a splitting headache. Nonetheless, I did show up to support the saving of Johnie's Broiler and followed the group down to the scene of the crime - a long  6 hours round trip drive in an open roadster. It was cold that day and my physical strength was tested. So I guess, I get some brownie points for that one.


When I finally got home it was almost 8PM. I had been driving or standing around for 12 hours straight. I was so exhausted I collapsed on my bed and never woke up for 14 hours. I had to call in sick the next day. Oh well, it was still worth it. All I want is to hear that what we did that day made a difference. ANY difference... And that maybe, just maybe, Johnie's Broiler will live.

click on photo thumbnail to see the full sized version

it all starts at Bob's Big Boy Toluca Lake

I have to pose for a magazine covering the event

Kevin lead the cruise with his 1934 roadster

the parking lot soon fills up with cars

and more cars

and another pin up girl.. No way! That's still me :)

See, I told you there was at least one other vintage girl there!

ok, ok one last pose before we head out...

first stop on our cruise, we refill cause we are all low on gas

the boys mingle

the large group has broken off into smaller groups. This is our little pack of hotrodder friends who have stuck together.

the hotrods wait, eager to hit the road again

second stop, Cindy's restaurant, once a famous cruise stop for 50's hotrodders.

Another stop - this time we get to actually EAT... This is "the hat" another famous cruise stop from the past

I lounge on my hiboy for a well deserved break

the boys eat and shoot the breeze

final stop - things are not looking good for harvey's Broiler - now called Johnny's Broiler and pretty much completely destroyed.

A petition table has been set-up

we all stand there at the corner of the two streets, in support

more cars flock

signs have been put up to protest against the illegal demolition of the landmark

it is sad to see what greed has done to this broiler

we hope for the best: that it will be saved and rebuilt

I hope this is not the last time I see the Johnny's Broiler sign standing

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