Downey's former Harvey's/Johnie's Broiler has made a major comeback from an utterly illegal Sunday afternoon demolition in 2007. Now a Bob's Big Boy, the restaurant has won the LA Conservancy's President's Award for preservation.
The Conservancy drops some history: "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." In 1968 the restaurant became Johnie's, which operated until 2001. After that the property was used as a car dealership, until January 2007 when an unpermitted bulldozer had its terrible way "without even fencing off the property or disconnecting the utilities."
The City of Downey partnered with a southern California Bob’s Big Boy franchisee to reconstruct the former Johnie’s Broiler building using the original building plans used to construct Harvey’s Broiler. Additionally, many unique and character-defining elements of the original building were reused to construct the new Bob’s Big Boy/Broiler building. The vision and determination of Jim Louder’s Bob’s Big Boy team cannot be understated.