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Johnny Rockets Restaurant and SO-CAL Speed Shop Exhibit Grand Opening at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Text by Dick DeLoach; Photos by Dick & Cindy DeLoach

Dick Deloach

George Barris & Dick DeLoach

Hamburgers and hot rods; both are symbols of Americana. These two icons came together at the world-renowned Petersen Automotive Museum, on Los Angeles’ “Miracle Mile,” September 19, 2009 at the Grand Opening Celebration of the new Johnny Rockets restaurant.

Located in the Museum right on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the Johnny Rockets at The Petersen has a motif meant to capture all of Americana. The décor includes jukeboxes, chrome accents, and red leather seats, while the walls are adorned with images of America's past. Customers are served by waiters and waitresses 

dressed in period attire. “The staff likes to add to the fun by singing, dancing [to Donna Summer's “Last Dance”], twirling straws, and making ketchup smiley faces,” general manager Jose Rosmundo said.

Patrons were able to order food all day on the 19th with 1986 prices. Plus, with a purchase of $20.00 or more worth of food they received a two for one discount to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

“Of all the Johnny Rockets that I've been to, this is the nicest one yet,” one happy customer said. What makes this one stand out from the others? “Well, this one has flat screen TVs inside the restaurant and there's a huge outdoor patio dining area with plush pillows and water bowls for your four-legged dining companions,” Rosmundo said. You also have the option to get fries or a side salad with your meal, and they serve breakfast too. A word of advice; since the restaurant is in a museum, it closes at 7 p.m. 

Legendary SoCal oldies radio station K-EARTH 101's own Charlie Tuna was on hand broadcasting live from the Johnny Rockets patio at the Museum during the event. People who answered Charlie's trivia questions on site won great prizes!
The celebration also coincided with the opening of a new exhibit celebrating the hot rods and racecars of SO-CAL Speed Shop, which will run through November 8. The exhibit featured the debut of ZZ Top front man Billy F. Gibbons' latest ride, a fully customized 1958 Ford Thunderbird built by SO-CAL Speed Shop and several other of their famous cars.

Petersen Museum Director, Dick Messer, made a brief opening speech at the exhibit, then SO-CAL Speed Shop founder Alex Xydias (2008 Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award Winner) and its current president, Pete Chapouris, said a few words at the exhibit.

The other vehicles on display included Chuck De Heras’ ’40 Ford Coupe and ’28 Ford Model A Pickup, John Devine’s ’66 Chevelle and ’55 Ford F-100 Pickup, Doane Spencer’s 1932 Ford Roadster, J.J. Barnhardt’s ’32 Ford 5-Window Coupe and ’32 Ford Hiboy Roadster, Jim and Debra Kipp’s ’30 Ford Model A Coupe, Martin Nooney’s ’32 Ford 3-Window Coupe, Bob Garibay’s ’32 Ford 5-Window Coupe, Jimmy “Shine” Falschlehner’s ’34 Ford Pickup, Jim Jard’s ’32 Ford Hiboy Roadster, and the ’32 Ford SO-CAL Special Roadster.

The famous 1951 SO-CAL Special Belly Tank Racer (owned by Bruce Meyer) was on display in the front lobby, where for several hours during the day Chapouris and Xydias autographed a limited edition poster commemorating the exhibit. A new SO-CAL Speed Shop satellite store also opened that day, stocked full of vintage-styled hot rod shirts and memorabilia.


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