Thank you to Kevin, Ron, John, Lori, George, Analisa & everyone who's been supporting this important cruise!!
Kevin is right, we're producing this event together, it's for ALL of us who care about our history to organize a fun event that brings people together and celebrates what's still out there!
REMEMBER THERE ARE 2 CRUISE ROUTES YOU CAN TAKE ON SUNDAY,
ONE'S FROM BOB'S-BURBANK & THE OTHER'S FROM GEORGE'S-LONG BEACH
Here's today's Press Telegram article, excellent coverage for us!
Riding to resurrect Johnie's Broiler
Car club members, restaurant regulars to drive in fundraiser cruise.
By Samantha Gonzaga, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
Article Launched:10/11/2007 09:41:03 PM PDT
DOWNEY - Since the age of 3, Kevin Preciado had heard stories about Harvey's Broiler, the Googie-style drive-in that put the city on the map of Southern California's cruising scene.
More than 40 years later, Harvey's, renamed Johnie's Broiler in 1965, still has stories to tell and Preciado is working to make sure they are heard.
On Sunday, about 200 car club members and some of Harvey's former regulars will drive one of two routes from Long Beach or Burbank for the "Holy Ghost Cruise." Equal parts fundraiser, driving tour and publicity event, organizers say the cruise ultimately has one goal - resurrection.
The grass-roots group Coalition to Rebuild Harvey's, of which Preciado is a member, hopes the event will attract a "benefactor," an investor willing to buy the land on which Johnie's Broiler stands and restore the coffee shop/drive-in to its former glory.
Johnie's Broiler, at 7447 Firestone Blvd., was illegally bulldozed on Jan. 7 by Ardas Yanik, a lessee of owner Christos Smyrniotis, who was once a cook for Harvey's founders Harvey and Minnie Ortner.
On Tuesday, Yanik pleaded "no contest" to three misdemeanor violations stemming from the razing.
Smyrniotis also filed an unlawful detainer lawsuit on Yanik. If successful, it would terminate the 99-year lease between them. Should Smyrniotis regain ownership, he would be required to clean up the property, said city prosecutor James Eckart.
Failure to do would result in legal action, he said.
Smyrniotis did not respond to requests for an interview.
A year-long moratorium on the 90,000-square-foot site will expire Jan. 23.
Today, all that remains of Johnie's is its sign and its "Fat Boy" mascot, which was spared when demolition was halted. That, and a fence guarding the rubble, are untouched since January.
Yanik's misdemeanor violations involved the unpermitted demolition of a structure, conducting the demolition in the presence of live electrical wires, and illegal dumping.
He was sentenced to three years' probation, a $2,500 fine, reimbursement of $4,600 to the city of Downey and 15 days of community service work with Caltrans, Eckart said.
Yanik leased the 90,000-square-foot property from Smyrniotis, who in 1966 changed the drive-in's name from Harvey's Broiler to Johnie's Broiler. Yanik sub-leased the property to a used car dealership, Car Outlet Inc.
According to city records, Yanik in October filed a request to tear down the dealership to install a small retail shopping center in its place. It was denied by the city's Planning Department due to a number of deficiencies, among them the absence of an environmental impact report and a traffic impact analysis.
In a past interview with the Press-Telegram, Assistant to the City Manager Scott Pomrehn said Johnie's is eligible for listing in the state's Register of Historical Resources, but that Smyrniotis had not pursued the paperwork to receive the status.
Adriene Biondo of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee said Ruby's Restaurant expressed interest in taking over the property in 2003.
But plans fell apart when Smyrniotis raised his price, she said.
In a Feb. 24, 2004, City Council meeting, Smyrniotis told City Manager Gerald Caton that he did not recall Ruby's approaching him.
"Christos has continued to be unresponsive," Biondo said when asked about the owner's openness to efforts and interest in restoring Johnie's.
Roads lead to Broiler
Though Johnie's ceased operations as an eatery Dec. 31, 2001, it was well-known in car club circles and received mentions in books chronicling the golden age of the Southland's car culture. It has also been used for commercial and movie locations.
Its razing affected people outside Southern California, Biondo said.
"You know what, I think that's because we feel that it touches many aspects of our culture that we're able to pull in lots of interest," said Biondo, who serves as the committee's commercial architecture chair. She's also a part of Coalition to Rebuild Harvey's. "It's amazing how people don't look at this just as Googie architecture. It is something uniquely American, uniquely Los Angeles."
Located at the corner of Firestone Boulevard and Old River School Road, Johnie's Broiler in its heyday bore the accoutrements and the fanfare of a Googie-style building. Typical of such architecture, the buildingfunctioned as a sign to attract customers.
According to a 2002 report by the state's Department of Parks and Recreation, Johnie's as Harvey's had a butterfly-shaped drive-in canopy 240 feet long and 44 feet wide and bright neon lights.
"A constellation of round, recessed downlights illuminates the concrete walkway," the report said. "There is space for 350 autos to park, and car service for 98 cars."
The "Holy Ghost Cruise" aims to bring car enthusiasts, hot rodders and other participants through a cruiser's boneyard, passing by the former sites and the surviving buildings of the 1960s car-cruising scene.
"Everybody I ever talked to always had stories about the route," said Preciado, who plotted Sunday's two routes. "They called it `cruising the circuit.' What we wanted to look for were survivors, so cruising the haunts of yesteryear's was what (the routes) are."
The cruise is free and will be followed by a post-cruise raffle at The Nordic Fox, 10924 Paramount Blvd. Proceeds will go toward a fund the Harvey's coalition says will eventually be offered to the investor the group hopes to attract.
"It's `all roads leads to the Broiler,"' Preciado said.
On the Net
Cruise map is at http://astroluxe.org/harveys/Cruise%20LB.htm
Samantha Gonzaga can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (562) 499-1284.