Lost in the 50’s Drive-in – Burnaby, BC


Lost in the 50’s Drive-in
7741 Edmonds Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 521-2813

December 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Lost in the 50’s, indeed.  That was my initial thought as I zipped past this lot that housed what appeared to be – in a brief, nonchalant sideways glance out of my moving car – an old school diner.  Without giving it any much thought, I continued on my way out of town and didn’t really think about it again until I came across it this week while out in the area again, now several months later.  In actuality I passed it completely, despite the fact that this time I actually concentrated on locating a visible sign for the business.  As I made my way further northeast and began heading down eastward into New Westminster, I was positive it couldn’t have been this far down Edmonds Street and made a swift u-turn.  As I slowed down to the intersection at Canada Way, this is what I saw (coming from the other direction of course)….

Exactly.  I know what you’re thinking – no more sign!  Or was there one to begin with?  And was this place even open?  A small commercial neon OPEN sign suggested it was still truly in business, and I pulled into the nearby parking lot, albeit from the wrong direction (I think I drove right into the ‘going out’ side of their drive-in lane).  Lucky for me, I was the only customer. 🙂

Not knowing anything about this neighborhood, I did a quick background check on what this place used to be like.  And to my surprise, I learned it used to look like this (apparently from just over three years ago).

Clearly the business has seen better days as what remains now seems to be a shell of its former shelf, and even the victim of some horrible graffiti tagging.  I think the reported ownership change, the loss of the novelty bus and perhaps the gradual wearing off/out of the aging fan base for places like this that remind them of their youth and decades gone-by, are to blame.  In any respect, I know I startled the kind elderly woman who was seated inside reading a book when I approached the closed window counter (the photo above taken after I’d ordered and was waiting for it to be ready).  It was the noon hour on a weekday, but she had to actually flip on the lights for the fluorescent light-powered menu board inside on the back wall for me to see.

As I waited for her to approach me, I noticed that there were some remnants of days past still proudly displayed for customers to see.  Old newspaper and magazine articles about the establishment in its apparent heyday, as well as signs that this place was indeed still stuck in the 1950’s – a framed poster of the King himself, Elvis Presley, as well as some of old classic cars and motorcycles.

Right next to those was this printed menu showing the burger choices.  Fairly standard, until I saw the Hawaii-themed ones, and it made me reminisce about this place from my summer vacation to paradise.

At this point, I almost wanted to pull away and get back into my car and find something else to eat.  But I would have felt so guilty in disturbing the poor woman’s restful state and so boldly ordered their mushroom burger and got some onion rings to go with it.  Throw in a can of pop, and it came to just over ten dollars.  Not exactly the fantastic value as at Burger Burger but heck, who can compete with that?  As it was such a beautiful sunny day, I elected to have my lunch at one of the six open picnic tables out front.

I started with the onion rings.  Real crispy, hot and not soggy and oily.  A nice start.

For those burger aficionados, Lost in the 50’s toasts their buns.  Personally, I prefer my hamburger buns untoasted.  Something about that soft, pillowy texture that I enjoy.  I’m quite sure though that I saw the same bag of buns on the counter that I saw at this bakery in New Westminster, that I suspect also supplies Burger Burger.

The top bun was layered with some mayonnaise, while the bottom was topped with some diced pieces of tomato, onion and cabbage.  I found this bit interesting, as it was more like a salsa but in fact worked quite well given that I hate biting into a difficult-to-cut-with-your-teeth thick slice of a white onion or tomato.  The brown mushrooms were well sauteed,  and plentiful as a topping.  Unfortunately, the burger patty was below average, I’m quite sure it was a pre-made, processed piece of meat (won’t call it 100% beef) and was thin, under-seasoned and dry.  It took great effort to even bother to put this all down, but the guilt I felt about that little woman making this for me, drove me to the finish line.

Nostalgia can be a good thing, and though I’m someone who doesn’t mind looking back at the past in many things in my life to gain perspective, I’d say that times have definitely passed for this place.  Visually, it seems like it has been condemned.  The proprietor(?) seemed uninterested in giving off the appearance that they were open, despite  the lit-up sign showing that it was.  And then there is the matter of the bigger sign by the road – where the heck is it?  As I was leaving, I passed this couple pushing a stroller who actually stopped at one of the picnic tables to take a rest, as if it were a public park and bench.  They probably had no clue the burger joint was in business.  And most importantly, the burger, specifically the patty, was pretty lame.  So for overall old school atmosphere and for keeping a dying genre on life support, I applaud them.  But for the food, I’d say it wouldn’t be enough to bring me back.

I’ll keep a lookout for the return of the street sign, if I’m in the neighborhood again. 🙂

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24 thoughts on “Lost in the 50’s Drive-in – Burnaby, BC

  1. What a place; and too think it had such a fast decline. At least it was an experience.

    Oh and seriously. Those pictures make it look like summer! Who would have thought there were Olympics on.. 🙂

    • The apparent rapid decline (judging from the Flickr photo) is truly shocking. More so when in person. The weather, on the other hand, is indeed a bright spot of late. 🙂

  2. Wow! Now THAT is a blast from the past!

    I drive around the area with some frequency; however, because I do not pass Canada Way, explains why I haven’t seen it. I should give this place a try, the same way I gave Burger Burger a chance. Now, as for the cheap factor, wonder if the Save-on-Meats stand is still open…

    • Good to know someone knew of it when it apparently had more life. It would be easy to assume its closed, had it not been for the turned on open light, I would have driven right by (again).

  3. It’s great that you finally found this joint. Although the food is not up to par, but still, the history about this joint is a good read. I really love the old school style vibe. With the right management, and a good cook of course, this 50s style burger can be a big hit.

    • Hi Tana, would you happen to know any more background about this place?

      I agree that there is still a place in the world for classic joints like this, which makes it even more harder to see when they become such obvious shadows of their former selves…

  4. I actually went by this place the other day and SOOO much has changed. The food did not look as bad as the pictures and all of the chicken and beef are organic and hormone free! The prices were pretty decent for the organics and local produce, but I was VERY IMPRESSED!! It seems like this restaurant gets a few bad reviews, but I will tell you to GO BACK and give it one last shot, because it was fantastic!!

    • Thanks for the update Lizz. The last time I swung by there, things didn’t appear to have improved in terms of their signage, lack of customers, etc. But will keep this in mind to see if what you say is true…

  5. I also just visited this place recently. I have driven by it my whole life, but now someone has certainly given it a much needed spruce up!! I was so happy to see this because I have always wanted this place to do well. Hopefully they continue to establish it and do some cool stuff with it!! On to the food, which also has been spruced up. At first I just quickly ordered some onion rings (which were tasty and crispy), then noticed they had a daily special of spicy pork tacos. These were AMAZING, I hope they put them on the menu full time, because I could eat them forever! If your in the area, check it out!

    • My learning about the taco’s from the owner is that they’ll be back in the spring. For those folks looking for them during the winter, they’ve been out of luck… 😦

  6. I also went back after the spruce up. It is a family run business, and the parents retired, so one of the sons took over and made some major changes. The burgers are organic, the fries are hand cur, they have a great selection of pop that I have never seen before: handcrafted root beer, Coke in the old school bottles, and even some “throwback” Pepsi products that are made with real sugar. They also added Korean street food to the menu; pork/beef tacos and burritos which were truly amazing!

  7. I was at 50’s diner for lunch, and I had to come back the next day for dinner, It was SO good!!! burger and fries, done just right! check it out!

  8. What was the original name of this drive in? Was it the Tomahawk Drive In ????
    Other names I have heard are Giant Burger and Garbo’s ..

    • Honestly, I am not sure. I have the strong feeling this place is no longer open, as whenever I’ve gone by, its windows are closed. Perhaps when its warmer out, they will be back, but who knows.

  9. The original name was Perks Drivein, then it as the Giant Burger.This was back in the late 60s and early 70s. The Giant Burger owners owned 2or 3 of these driveins. The other 2 where in Coquitlam. It was very popular when Edmonds Junior High was open. They made the hands down best mushroom burgers in the world, their other specialty was fries and gravy they could not be beat! They also had great milkshakes.

    • Funny, I was just thinking about this place. Used to come here in the late 70s. Giant Burger was owned and run by two sisters I believe. Rodo’s description of the food is spot on, as well the beef was infused with just enough garlic to drive you wild!

  10. This place is now under new management, being renovated and clearly open full-time. The new owner, previously a local real estate agent, is remaking the recipes to be healthier than they were before so many of the things they serve are different now. I think the giant sign is back too, although without all the lights it used to have.

  11. Tomahawk, Perk’s (became Perk’s donuts at Middlegate Mall), Giant Burger, Gar-Bo (Gary and Bob from San Fransico) , Lindseys , Lost in the 50’s. The original Tomahawk neon sign (circa 1960) was the coolest. They were popular for their soft ice cream and milkshakes in their heyday as Giant Burger. Their “Giant” burger was a 2 pattie with a weiner on top.

  12. I used to eat at this ‘diner’ in the 50’s and 60’s when it was the Tomahawk. Man, that`s only going back a mere 50 years..

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