Hamburgers in Ontario, a history

In conversation with me recently, author and Ontario native Charles Phoenix was recalling the burger joints of his 1960s-1970s youth. I’ll list them below; the descriptions are mine.

Burger Bandit: At 4th and Grove, this stand’s mascot was a man in a burglar mask. Demolished (I think?).

Hamburger Ding-a-Ling: At D and Euclid, this restaurant’s oddball concept was to have telephones at each booth, which customers would use to phone in their order. The food would be delivered to the table. Now demolished.

Burger Lane: At San Antonio and Holt. It’s now Sammy Burger.

Burger Q*: On Mountain at G Street. The Q, Phoenix says, referred to a “queue,” as in a line, as in, you line up for burgers. (*I inadvertently left this place off the list even though it did come up in our conversation. Because a couple of commenters asked about it, I’ll retroactively add it here for completeness’ sake.)

Andy’s Burgers: At Holt and Sultana (I think?), this drive-in moved to Holt and Lemon circa 2004. There’s a second one in Chino.

Before our conversation, Phoenix had dropped in at Andy’s to chat with the staff and learned that it opened in 1969. That’s 40 years ago.

If Andy’s has survived four decades, Phoenix mused, that puts them ahead of all the competition.

“They would be the official hamburger of Ontario,” Phoenix declared.

What do you think?

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  • John Q Publiq

    I used to make prank orders at Hamburger Ding-a-ling as a kid. What great fun it was terrorizing Ontario in the ’70s.

  • Ren

    Yo Dave there used to be a Buger Bandit in Chino on Riverside Dr. then it was a donut shop.

  • Steve Rodriguez

    Until In N Out Burgers became popular, Andy’s Burgers were the best in the area!!

    Steve Rodriguez

  • Debbie Raymond

    Does anyone remember Burger Q on Mountain Ave below G Street between Woolverton VW and the 76 Station? They had the best burgers!

    [I'll bet Charles Bentley remembers it. Charles, are you there? -- DA]

  • http://www.workingtitlez.com Carolyn Hayes Uber

    Where’s BURGER Q on this list? In the mid-’60s it was THE hangout for Chaffey kids. It was on Mountain, east side, just below the cemetery. We all hung out in that parking lot for hours. We’d cruise the Q on the way to/from just about anywhere, just to see who else was hanging out. Their burgers were really good, too. The only problem was my parents really liked it too. Not my fave to discover them going through the drive-thru while I’m hanging at the Q and supposed to be at the library!

    [I've gone back and added the Q to the list. Thanks for the info, and the funny story. -- DA]

  • Randall Volm

    Dave,

    What about the A&W that sat on Holt Blvd, west of Mountain Ave. for what seemed to be eons! LOL

    [It may have been eons, but no eons enough -- it's now (sob) a used car lot. Charles Phoenix probably mentioned this place too. -- DA]

  • Tad Decker

    How about O’Reily’s Buffet Burger at Holt and Mountain? They were famous for the condiment bar, where you put your own toppings on either your burger or your sundae.

    Despite the name, the owners (Ray and Mildred Schulman) were, er, not Irish. They operated from the early sixties to the early seventies.

  • Linda Frost

    I think you were going for burger joints currently in existence, but if we are going for history, do not forget Laddies on East Holt. They were the first fast food place in Ontario.

    Stinky’s may have been in Upland, but it served a regional clientele. Wag’s served up a good burger, too.

    Though I had my first In-N-Out at their original location in Baldwin Park (we stopped there on our way into Los Angeles before the 10 freeway was built), the E-Z Take-Out Burger at Central and Foothill was originally an In-N-Out when it was constructed in the early sixties. It provided a fix when I was in high school. I have no idea why they vacated the spot and ended up down the road.

  • Charles Bentley

    GREETINGS:
    Wow, a call to action from David Allen. I truly feel privileged.

    When I first read the blog entry, I was surprised there was no mention of Burger Q. At one time there were a number of these located around the area. The last one I went to was in Whittier; I believe there still may be one operating in West Covina.

    I remember the Ontario location being wedged in beside Woolverton VW. The McDonald’s just to the north was, originally, the basic operation with no indoor seating and, more importantly, no drive-thru option. That second point I believe helped made Burger Q so popular, especially with local teens. That and the burgers were really good.

    I do have to offer up another burger place for your list. Long before Burger Bandit hit the scene, All States Frosty on Fourth Street (west of John Galvin Park) was serving burgers on the East Side along with their 50 variations of ice cream sundaes. Did Charles Phoenix ever happen across this former local landmark during his formative years?

    [Charles P. is the only person other than yourself (Charles B.) to have ever mentioned All States Frosty to me! Yes, he loved it too. -- DA]

  • Derek Christensen

    Actually, the building/structure that eventually became “Hamburger Ding-A-Ling” was originally built as a roast beef fast-food restaurant (I forget the name), similar to Arby’s which was also in the area (Pomona) at that time (late ’60s IIRC).

    Our family stopped there for take-out a few times, but that roast beef business didn’t survive all that long.

  • David

    Just a suggestion on the photos in this article. If whoever takes these photos would check their camera’s manual under two areas, “macro” and “white balance,” the resulting photos will be vastly improved. The macro setting sets the camera up to focus on subjects closer than 6 feet. Otherwise, the blurred photos I see result. White balance adapts the camera to the lighting — outdoor, fluorescent lighting, tungsten (standard light bulb) lighting, etc. The blue cast and yellow cast I see in some of the photos are typical of improper white balance.

    ["Whoever takes the photos" has just placed markers in his photo manual on the subjects you mention and will investigate further. -- WTTP, i.e., DA]

  • Charles Bentley

    GREETINGS:
    I took the opportunity over the weekend to speak with my father about the “burger history of Ontario.” Having grown up in the city in the 1940s, he can, I believe, bring a deeper perspective to the discussion.

    When it came to the best burgers “back in the day,” he said the top choice was Jiffy Lunch on Holt Boulevard (SE corner of Holt & Melrose Ave.). Despite the location’s extremely small size, he said it was very, very popular, often times with people waiting outside for their chance at the city’s best burgers and chili. I believe it is currently a Mexican food restaurant. Just FYI – There is a great black & white image of Jiffy Lunch framed and on display at Ramon’s Cactus Patch.

    He also mentioned Price’s Drive-In, which was located on the NE corner of Monterey Ave. & Holt Blvd. It featured car hop service and a very good burger.

    Dad said that before Andy’s became Andy’s, that original location was the site of Carnation Ice Cream. Neither he nor my mother recall if Carnation served burgers back then, but it was a favorite spot for great ice cream.

    While Andy’s may (or may not) be the oldest continuing burger place in Ontario, because they moved across Holt they are certainly not the oldest location still serving. My dad wonders if that designation might not belong to Posh Burgers on the north side of Holt east of Campus Ave. For many years that was the local Dairy Queen, and while dad hasn’t been to Posh, he figures by the name it probably remains true to the cuisine.

    The other possibility is Sammy’s on the south side of Holt (just west of Cypress Ave.). My dad isn’t sure what it was called before Sammy’s, but that it has also been providing burgers to locals for many, many years.

    Just a little more local eating history from the Bentley family to you and your readers, David. I hope you enjoy!

    [Thanks to your and your pop, Charles. Lots of good information, some of it brand-new to me, regarding Carnation and Price. A few additions and comments: I believe Sammy's was originally Burger Lane. Posh is now closed, but yes, that location has been a burger joint a long time. -- DA]

  • Dave Taylor

    Sammy’s used to be called Burger Lane and was my Mom and Dad’s hangout in the very late ’50s. They claimed to be the first to use “secret sauce.” It was watered down 1000 island dressing. The E-Z Take Out Burgers were originally called Instant Burger. Would love to see something on the Ontario eatery scene of the ’50s and ’60s. Places like the Hot Dog Show and The Grinder Haven.

    [How about you e-mail me your own '50s-'60s memories, I can post that and we can let readers add on from there, Dave? -- DA]

  • PEGGY

    Oh how I miss the burger bandit. I can almost taste their burgers and fries. What a treat for my family and myself. As a kid we would stop there after going to the calvary church up the street. We just loved it so, and it was the best. One day it just closed up, never heard why. I was heartbroken, but nice to see someone actually remembering the masked burger bandit. It was the best.

    Peggy

  • L. D. Bowden

    The Burger Bandit was located at the corner of 5th and Grove (just above the freeway overpass). There was a tiny parking lot in the rear, as most people used the drive thru window. In the lot there were tables against the cinder block wall, covered by wooden lattices which in turn had ivy growing on top. This way you could eat in the shade on hot days!

    They would also make sodas any way you wanted!!! My favorite drink was the Chocolate Coke (Hershey’s syrup mixed into a Coca-Cola)! I played Little League baseball at Galvin Park and our sponsor was Burger Bandit. Every week, following a game, we would all go by and get free burgers, fries and drinks!!

    Tasted just like In-N-Out Burger..Fantastic!!

  • Dave Linck

    I have a verification of the name Burger Q…it did not stem from ‘queue’ but from the barbeque sauce put on the burgers. I dated a girl who worked there and ate lotsa those BBQ sauced burgers. So it’s Burger Q…as in barbeQUE. Hiya David!!!

    [Hiya! -- Q]

  • barbara f

    Hillbilly Haven on Holt in Pomona served Hillbilly burgers, wouldn’t you know. Well, Pomona, not Ontario… Still … what a genuinely bad collection of ideas that place was!

  • Joanne

    Just wanted to tell you that the Burger Bandit was on 5th St. and Grove. It was owned by the Clark family, who did also have one in Chino (Dad, Lloyd ran the Chino location while son, David, ran the Ontario location). They also provided food for local catering trucks.

    I don’t know how many people knew, but they had an awesome patty melt sandwich — don’t think it was on the actual menu (but I could be wrong, after all, it has been MANY years since it was my childhood hangout).

    I wish they had not closed the place down…they could still be making bucks if it were up and running (the saddest part is that they did NOTHING with that space!). All changes are not good changes.