Restored Downey Drive-In Wins Top Conservation Prize

Bob's Big Boy Broiler
Bob’s Big Boy Broiler Photo: Karen 90631 via Flickr

Downey’s Bob’s Big Boy is the 2010 winner of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s President’s Award, the group’s highest accolade in honoring historic preservation in the city. Opened as Harvey’s Broiler in 1958, the restaurant was once SoCal’s largest drive-in, with space for over 100 cars and 65-foot of Googie signage, Contra Costa Times recounts. The Broiler became “Johnie’s” under new ownership in 1968 and stayed that way until becoming a used-car shop that dismantled much of the original property in 2001. An illegal demolition in 2007 was halted with help from grass-roots group “Friends of Johnie’s,” who teamed with The Conservancy and Bob’s Big Boy franchise operator Jim Louder to reconstruct the ruins of the restaurant back to original form while also adhering to contemporary building codes. Less than a year after opening and a few years after death knells were audible in the Bob’s Big Boy empire, we’re happy to see this commendation for one of SoCal’s dining dynasties as well as our own food culture. An awards ceremony is open to the public with $125 tickets at Millennium Biltmore Hotel on May 13th.

Restored Broiler wins top preservation award [Contra Costa Times]