Flakey Jake’s

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In the eighties, there was a war of competing hamburger chains: Fuddrucker’s versus Flakey Jake’s.  I liked them both but slightly preferred the latter, particularly the Flakey Jake’s on the northwest corner of the intersection of Pico and Sepulveda in West Los Angeles.

The premise of both chains was simple.  They sold pretty good hamburgers, a notch above McDonald’s and Burger King at a correspondingly (but not exorbitant) price.  They both had other menu items but you went there for the burgers, which were served on a bun cooked on the premises in their own bakery.  The bakery also made cinnamon buns and other goodies which you could purchase to take home.

One thing I liked about them was the “dress-it-yourself” bar that I first encountered at Woody’s Smorgasburger, which has become the major topic of this site.  You got your burger nude and you carried it over to an area where they had ketchup and mustard and onions and lettuce and tomato and cheese sauces and other toppings.  The hamburgers at Flakey Jake’s were pretty darned good and I ate at the Pico-Sepulveda one often.

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The two chains were in fierce competition to open up new locations across the country — some company-owned, some franchised. In a few cases, they competed head-to-head: There’d be a Flakey Jake’s literally across the street from a Fuddrucker’s.  Fuddrucker’s also sued Flakey Jake’s charging “infringement of trade dress” (copying its format) and then Flakey Jake’s counter-sued Fuddrucker’s charging “restraint of trade” and in ’82, they settled out of court on undisclosed terms.

Around this time, Flakey Jake’s, which had been founded by a Seattle-based seafood restaurant chain, sold out to Frank Carney (co-founder of Pizza Hut) and a group of investors. Apparently, they couldn’t make a go of it. Before long, all the Flakey Jake’s closed…or seem to have closed. Fuddrucker’s, meanwhile, continues to thrive and currently has around 200 outlets across the U.S. — few of them, I’m afraid, in areas where I travel. I’m curious why one chain succeeded and the other didn’t because they were, after all, pretty much the same thing.

67 Responses to Flakey Jake’s

  • Julie says:

    I used to work at the Tempe, AZ location and loved the chicken taco salad. It was a lot of fun making REAL homemade shakes and malts. You all are not alone in missing Flakey Jakes!

  • rebecca says:

    I’m proud to say I ate at 42 of these restaurants listed!!!!!!!!!!!
    oops, giving my age

  • Stephanie says:

    I worked at the one in Las Vegas on Decatur
    Loved everyone i worked with and the food but i was trying to figure out how i could get the address of where it was.

  • Tyrone Shelton says:

    I worked at Flakey Jakes in Indianapolis, Indiana my senior year of high school. And I honestly didn’t know it was a national chain until now. And I just ate a a Fuddruckers a month ago in Georgia Attached to a gas station. Any time I’m near a Fuddruckers I eat there. I really miss Flakey Jakes. They also had steaks which put them over the top of Fuddruckers. But that’s all we have now. I’m looking for an investor to bring back a Flakey Jakes.

  • Dee Jaye says:

    Loved the cheese sauce pump and bucket-of-beer. Reno and Las Vegas.

  • Deb Hockenheimer says:

    Flakey Jakes had a hamburger sala. I thing is was chopped tomatoes and onions. Could I please get the recipe?

  • Marshall says:

    I loved Flakey Jakes! My parents and I used to travel to the one in Renton, WA! I also ate at the one at the Columbia Center Tower in Downtown Seattle! I was sad when they all went away! I am wondering, how large did the chain get and what states were they located?

  • Emm Cee says:

    Mark Strickert- the Flakey Jakes near Northridge was west of the mall on Nordhoff, it is has been a Mimi’s Café for many years now.

  • Tim says:

    It was my very first job in high school. I was a junior and I worked at the location on Maryland Pkwy in Las Vegas, NV. When we opened the second store on the west side on Decatur Blvd, I was on the opening team. Still have the 80’s employee vintage hat and blue polo shirt with the red embroidery.

  • Dale Mingo says:

    I opened the Columbia tower location in Seattle Washington and became an opening training for the company in the 80’s. I travelled around the company opening new location and retrofitting for full service. I was in Houston and was offered the operations manager position in 1985 and wound up moving to Houston and running the Katy and the other location. Many great memories. would love to connect with the folks.

  • Bruce says:

    Reply to G. J. P: Yes, I remember Smorgy’s on Colorado Blvd. It was one of the close off-campus restaurants for early 1970s Caltech students without cars. (Quantity, rather than quality.) One of my classmates, who was from Greece, claimed he got money from a “rich uncle” to pay for his food one year, spent it on a car survived by eating one meal at Smorgy’s every other day! A sandwich place not far from there was Stottlemeyers’s (sp?). Can’t say I miss them very much.

  • Pam Wilson says:

    I am heading to Salt Lake City tomorrow, and was curious if the Flakey Jakes was still there. I was on the opening team that was there to train the staff when it opened in the 80’s. Sadly I see it is no longer there. It was one of several I helped open (Tacoma, Columbia Tower Seattle, Davenport, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Charleston, SC, and Tempe, AZ.). I am sure I missed a couple. My base store was Bellevue. I definitely wish there was one still around.

  • G. J. P. says:

    Anyone remember Smorgy’s (all-you-can-eat) in Pasadena, On Colorado Bl., at Oak Knoll? It’s been gone for many years now. A few years ago, I saw their (last remaining?) location in the shopping mall area in the N. E. part of Montebello (near the 60 Freeway). Their’s was the FIRST all-you-can-eat place that I remember where the drinks were included in the price. I was lucky enough, later to discover 2 or 3 of their places (in the 1980’s) still existing in Honolulu, of all places.
    Also, does anyone remember the “Sir George’s” buffet restaurant chain?

  • David Balen says:

    Are there any more Flakey Jake’s around anymore? If so where are they?

  • Mark Strickert says:

    I ate at a Flakey Jake’s near Cal State Northridge in 1993. Would anyone remember the address or general location? I’ve also eaten at Flakey Jake’s in Anaheim, Indianapolis, and Davenport, Iowa. Sadly, all are now gone. Like you, I wonder why some chains survive and others vanish. I’m guessing management issues?

  • PK Smith says:

    My store was FJ in Redmond. I still have the original 24 foot neon sign that graced the exterior facing Willows Rd. I can’t turn it on because it sucks so much juice that it ” browns-0ut” the neighborhood. I also have a grey FJ sweatshirt, size M, if someone wants to buy it. patsmith@seanet.com

  • Elorette says:

    My husband and I were reminiscing about Flakey Jake’s, and found this site. We used to go there, not with each other because we didn’t know each other yet. We went to the one in Bellevue, Wa. across the 116th from Overlake Hospital where I worked from 1981-2006, but couldn’t tell you when it was open. We used to have meetings there after work, and my husband used to have meetings there, too, but he was a pastor.

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