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Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 10 Jun 2008 17:13
by TheQuestioner
While browsing Flickr I saw some photos and ads that referred to Roy Rogers Restaurants initial presence in the LA area. I am not sure why they didn't last more than a few years in LA while they went on to years of success in the Northeast, but that's another topic. What I noticed when I looked on Live Maps at one of the former Roy's locations in Van Nuys was that it was still standing, in business as an Arby's. Despite heavy modification you can still recognize the design as one of Roy Rogers' early building styles if you are familiar with them.

I began to look for other LA area Arby's, to see if they looked familiar, in case Marriott had sold off all of the Roy's to Arby's when they gave up on LA. (though I think I read somewhere that some Roy's were turned into a "Big Boy Jr." concept similar to "Hot Shoppes Jr." in DC) Instead of finding other Roy Rogers buildings per se, I found something even stranger. There are at least two Arby's in the LA area that are in buildings that are almost identical to the building design of the Gino's fast food restaurant chain. As far as I know, Gino's was a pretty local chain, it was named after a Baltimore Colts football player, and I believe at their height they stretched no farther geographically than Philly to the north and perhaps Richmond VA, to the south. I believe they went no further west than western MD or perhaps Ohio. In my time, Gino's was really only in the DC and the Baltimore areas. What they were doing in LA is a total mystery to me.

Gino's used a distinctive "longhouse" design, where the building had a peaked "A" roofline, but was not an "A-Frame" exactly. There were two doorways at the very front of the building that entered a separate lobby, kind of like an airlock, so that the outside breeze wouldn't get in. If you look up the following address in Live Maps you can see an intact building: 6494 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

The LA area Arby's are almost perfectly identical, down to the location of the exhaust chimneys and length of the buildings. They are at the following addresses:

19051 Brookhurst St, Huntington Beach, CA 92646 (this one has a strange non-standard version of the old Arby's sign on a pole-in place of a Gino's sign?)

9070 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241

Does anyone know what these locations were originally built as? I cannot believe that Gino's would have ever had any presence in LA, they were a homegrown Maryland chain, and aside from their franchise agreement with KFC in the 60's, they were pretty independent as far as I know. No corporate overlords until Marriott purchased them and converted them to Roy Rogers. Of course, the fact that they became part of Roy's might seem to solve the mystery, except for the fact that Marriott didn't purchase them until 1982, long after they gave up on Roy Rogers in the LA area. Also, while Roy's would reuse the Gino's buildings in DC, I never saw Marriott build a "new" Roy's in that style, they already had their own design for buildings and has no need to copy Gino's. My only guess is that somehow Gino's building design was not their own, and that it was something other chains could purchase or license from a architecture firm, but I have never heard of such an arrangement in the world of fast food or retail in general.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 18 Jun 2008 10:26
by runchadrun
In looking through the Times archive the only reference to a Gino's was the owner of the Rustler House steakhouse chain and a KFC franchisee. Both the Downey and HB stores were Arby's as of a 1976 ad. At the time the majority owner of Arby's was Royal Crown Cola.

I'm interested in seeing the list of former Roy Rogers locations. It must have been before my time because I don't remember ever seeing them in Socal.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 18 Jun 2008 12:22
by enginecapt
runchadrun wrote:
I'm interested in seeing the list of former Roy Rogers locations. It must have been before my time because I don't remember ever seeing them in Socal.
Neither do I, and I've been here since 1955.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 18 Jun 2008 15:10
by romleys

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 18 Jun 2008 16:54
by Jeff
I have seen some other Arbys with this design, and a few former ones too.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 19 Jun 2008 02:29
by TheQuestioner
The former Roy Rogers at 6833 Van Nuys Blvd. is still standing, and is open as an Arby's. From my semi-thorough browsing of site photos of LA area Arby's, that seems to be the only Arby's that is in a "typical" Roy Rogers building. The style of building was used quite a bit in Roy's main territory, though many Roy's I remember were former Hot Shoppes Jr. buildings, which had their own distinctive look. There are probably at least a few other Roy Rogers buildings out in LA or maybe elsewhere in CA. Each location could have become something different, aside from possible stints as Big Boy Jr. (I would love to see a photo of one of those, but aside from a lone pic of a wall sign at a defunct downtown LA mall, I have never seen photo evidence of BB Jr.)

For the similarity to Gino's, I am not unwilling to rule out coincidence, since those do happen. There is a burger place called Aggie's in San Lorenzo CA that looks similar to the Hot Shoppes Jr. design, but I have been told by several people on this and other boards that it was never a Roy's and was always Aggie's as far as they knew. However, it might fool an amateur "retail historian." I once had an email exchange with one of the sons of a founder of Roy's (A Mr. Plamondon, he currently runs the franchise that operates existing Roy Rogers, after retrieving the rights from what was left of Hardees.) Mr. Plamondon said that Roy's initially started as a prototype called "Robee's" in Ft. Wayne Indiana in 1968, and that soon after, it was expanded (as Roy Rogers) into the mid-atlantic, with perhaps a dozen or fewer on the west coast, and perhaps a few locations in other metro areas. I have heard that there were for many years a few "orphan" RR restaurants in places like Redding CA and other isolated CA communities. I have found no sign of them past or present. Before that conversation (and Romley's photos) the only reason I knew that Roy's was once in LA was because of an offhand comment made on an animator's blog that mentioned how great Roy's was when it first appeared all over LA (and how the rest-stop Roy's in NY State were pale imitations of what he remembered.) On a side note, there is a Roy Rogers in the early building style that has the original covered wagon sign intact. It is located in Cincinnati, OH, it must have been part of their early expansion, since no others are within hundreds of miles of it. It is still open as Roy's and is supposedly a total throwback inside and out. Those wagon signs were purged by Marriott after they merged with Gino's, haven't seen one in almost 30 years. I would love to go see that orphan, but it is kind of far from anything else I would have a reason to visit.

As for the "Gino's" buildings in LA, I can only guess that Arby's used architectural plans that had also been used by Gino's. I have never heard of any corporate relationships between Arby's and Gino's, I think KFC was their only partner, and that was only in some regions (mainly DC and surrounding areas.) I think Rustler was a buyout, but their buildings looked nothing like Gino's, and unlike the various Marriott properties, I think they did nothing to publicize their shared ownership. I will say that the building design seen in LA is similar to the older Gino's locations. From what I can tell, by the mid 70's Gino's had adopted a shortened version of their longhouse design, with entrances on each side, but no longer at the front. I visited one such building the other day (still open as a Roy's) located in Alexandria VA. The other distinctive thing about Gino's I had forgotten about until saw that building is that they were made of brick that was laid in a style where the masonry between bricks was in deep, so the bricks seemed to "stick out" and look chunky. I have no idea of there is any such brickwork to be seen on any of the LA Arby's, but if there is (maybe by the rear equipment) there would almost have to be a connection.

I did consider the possibility that all of the Gino's I knew growing up were in buildings that were formerly Arby's. However, Gino's was founded several years before Arby's, and there are pictures and illustrations of Gino's in that building style that predate the franchising of Arby's. (still, I wanted to consider all options!) It looks like Gino's used a different building at first, similar to 50's style McDonald's/Burger King/Carroll's, and used the longhouse later on, but I never saw a Gino's operating in anything other than the longhouse, so I am guessing it was just a few early locations that used the smaller buildings with no interior seating. Well, I have belabored this topic enough. Either someone on this board has the answers (or the desire to do more in-depth research than I have) or they don't. Just wanted to see if anyone has any clues.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 19 Jun 2008 02:32
by TheQuestioner
Jeff wrote:I have seen some other Arbys with this design, and a few former ones too.
Jeff, where did you see the other Arby's buildings with this design? I am familiar with only two designs for pre 80's Arby's. One is the classic curved roof building, the other is a boxier building with a "curve" suggested in the woodwork above the front windows, but under the angular roofline. I would love to track more of these down.

Re: Gino's Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 19 Jun 2008 10:45
by runchadrun
In July 1968 the Times printed an article about "the second of an estimated 55 Southland" Roy Rogers stores being started at Garden Grove Blvd and Gilbert St in Garden Grove. It doesn't say where the first location was, and I found no articles about the other 53 planned stores.

I found two Roy Rogers ads in the Times database from July 2 and July 9, 1970 (right next to Food Fair ads) with these locations listed:

6833 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys (Arby's)
4320 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake (demolished; actually in the City of Burbank)
9255 Reseda Blvd, Northridge (Falafel Palace, same architecture as Van Nuys)
Lankershim & Magnolia, North Hollywood (probably demolished)

By 1974 the Riverside Drive address was called "Mamacita" According to the 1976 ad, only the Van Nuys location became an Arby's.

My mom literally lives next door to the Van Nuys store and sometimes I use their parking lot when I can't find street parking.

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 19 Jun 2008 12:19
by romleys
Here is a Bobs Big Boy Jr.

I have a lot of photos that have been discussed in this topic and others @

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 20 Jun 2008 14:31
by tesg
romleys wrote:Here is a Bobs Big Boy Jr.
Wow. AWESOME building and signage. I REALLY need a time machine.

Here's the Roy Rogers Cincinnati sign.


It IS a total throwback inside. I was in love with the glossy red tile behind the counter.

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 20 Jun 2008 18:57
by umtrr-author
Somewhat OT, but if it's the Gino's I am thinking of, they were definitely in New Jersey also. There was one in South Plainfield, not far off of Route 287.

They had "homestyle hamburgers" and thicker than typical French Fries toward the end of their existence, both of which went to Roy Rogers when a number of Gino's were flipped to RR's. And then there were the nearly solid milkshakes...

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 23 Jun 2008 12:49
by philside92
yes, gino's was in NJ. the last one i remember seeing open was on the boardwalk in ocean city.

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 15 Nov 2013 14:51
by jrrice
YES. Gino's Burgers WAS in fact at 19051 Brookhurst St, Huntington Beach, CA 92646 in the Early 70s. Can't recall exactly when, however it was most likely between 70-72. I remember going their a couple of times with my parents, we lived off Brookhurs n Yorktown just a couple blocks away. I think it was already closed by 74 when we moved to Anaheim, which btw there was another Gino's Burgers (also closed) near Brookhurst on Orangethorpe Ave. They were boarded up for years until Arby's and other fast foods went in.

Re: Gino's/Roy Rogers Restaurants in LA?

Posted: 06 Nov 2015 18:57
by TheQuestioner
It's been a couple of years, but I finally got around to replying to this thread! Amazing to hear confirmation of Gino's being in Southern California. That is so completely far from their home region, I am still amazed to hear that they ever were there. If the building designs were not so unique, I would not believe you. It makes me wonder if Gino's ever attempted to expand to other regions beyond their stronghold. Everything I've ever read online seems to say the only states Gino's was ever in were Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Penn., New Jersey, and maybe parts of New York.

Marriott opening Roy Rogers in far-flung regions of the country makes sense (though I was still surprised when I first learned of it.) In the 80s, everyone thought of Roy's as a northeast/Mid-Atlantic chain, but 20 years earlier when they launched, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that they would only succeed there. The initial concept restaurant was started in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in the 60s, and along with California, I believe there were a few Roy Rogers in at least a half-dozen other states that never took to them. The Ginos thing is more surprising, because in the 70s they were not part of Marriott or any other large national corporation, they were a regional burger chain. It would be like Hardee's opening branches in Maine or Oregon in the 60s - their home was the South, period. If anyone else out there has more tales of "wandering Gino's" locations, I'd love to hear it!