Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Irv's Burgers

I think it was Woody Allen who said: "I don't have a problem with change -- I just don't want to be around when it happens." It seems we live in a society where progress is paramount and history is too often forgotten. The problem with most progress is that it is driven by greed rather than by a legitimate need for change. Such is the case in my neighborhood, where a local historic landmark is facing demolition in the face of the seemingly epidemic proliferation of premium coffee franchises. I felt I had to take a stand.

When I first moved out here, I spent some time hanging out at my buddy Brian's apartment. He let me use his computer to work on my screenplays while he was at work. I liked the area and took many long walks looking for apartments. During one of these walks, I stopped at a burger stand called Irv's Burgers and had a very tasty turkey burger. Right then and there I decided that this was the neighborhood for me. Any neighborhood that had a place like Irv's was right up my alley. In fact, I ended up taking an apartment just two blocks down the street and soon became an Irv's regular.

Now it isn't just the burgers that make Irv's the best place to eat in town. The owner, Sonia Hong, also happens to be the most cheerful and sweetest woman you ever met. She greets every customer by name and personalizes each order with handwritten notes and drawings on the paper plates and bags. Over the years I have brought everyone I know to share in the Irv's experience and Sonia has treated all of them like family. Her's is truly a family place as her mother and brother work alongside her. Everyone who comes to visit me in L.A. counts Irv's as one of the highlights of the trip.

But Irv's may not be around much longer. The owner of the property wants to lease the space surrounding Irv's to a coffee chain called Peet's and their plan is to get rid of the burger stand to make room for a parking lot. "They paved paradise and..." Well you know how it goes. Anyway a bunch of Irv's loyal customers have banded together with a petition and letter-writing campaign to try and persuade the developers to allow Irv's to remain where it is. Irv's is one of the last of a dying breed of walk-up hamburger stands and is truly one-of-a-kind. The fact that Irv's happens to be located on the original Route 66 and was frequented by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin contribute to its historic value.

The other day I went over to Irv's for a "delicious" turkey burger. While I was there, a reporter from Channel 2 showed up and interviewed me for a story they were doing about Irv's. There has been quite a bit of media attention, including stories in the L.A. Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street journal.

I hope the Burger Brigade is successful, it would be sad to see Irv's disappear. There are too many shiny new things that lack substance and not enough shabby old things that have character. Maybe this time there are enough people who care about the shabby old things to actually make a difference. We'll see.

Love, "Turkey Burger" Dick