Bob's Big Boy Broiler | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by John Eng

Bob's Big Boy Broiler

Harvey’s Broiler was the largest drive-in restaurant in Southern California when it opened in 1958. Designed by architect Paul B. Clayton, the combination coffee shop, restaurant, and drive-in sported exuberant Googie features, including a 65-foot-long sign that shone like a beacon on popular Firestone Boulevard. “The Broiler” soon became the hub of Southern California’s booming 1950s cruising culture. 

Widely considered the best remaining example of 1950s Googie drive-in architecture, the Broiler was renamed Johnie’s in 1968 and operated continuously until it closed for good on New Year’s Eve 2001.

The property served as a used-car dealership for years, with tenants neglecting the historic building and even removing original features. The grassroots Friends of Johnie’s advocacy group formed soon after, working with the Conservancy’s volunteer Modern Committee to designate the Broiler as a state landmark.

After suffering from an illegal partial demolition in 2007, Bob’s Big Boy franchise operator Jim Louder agreed to rebuild the Broiler and operate it as a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant, with the City of Downey Redevelopment Agency making a significant contribution toward the Broiler’s reconstruction. The work to restore and reconstruct the building earned the project team a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2010.

Photo by Maxim Shapovalov.

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Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

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