On December 16, 2016, one of Long Beach’s historic landmarks was in trouble. A fire tore through George’s 50s Diner, leaving the interior of this Googie masterpiece completely gutted. Miraculously the exterior was virtually untouched. But it was still a long road to rebuild, and a year and a half later, this icon is open again for business.
Opening in 1952 originally as Grisinger’s Drive-In, the location changed hands a few times until 1996 when George Alvarez, a long time employee of the previous incarnations, took over, renaming it George’s 50s Diner. Long gone are the car-hops, but the retro vibe is still here.
Designed by Wayne McAllister, also responsible for the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank (another famed drive-in diner that has yet to appear on the blog, despite my many visits to it) the building is a glorious example of mid-century modern and Googie architecture, with its flat, but rounded, roof, and built-in signage jutting from the roof.
I had the pleasure of meeting George during our visit, and he was visibly happy to have his restaurant back in full swing, and it was hoppin’! George’s 50s Diner is a must visit for architecture lovers and foodies alike. It’s also been used as a filming location on several occasions, including a childhood favorite of mine, Corrina, Corrina.
George’s 50s Diner is located at 4390 Atlantic Avenue in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach. Visit their Facebook page for more info.