Lost in the 50’s Drive-in
7741 Edmonds Street
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. 🙂