Flakey Jake’s

flakeyjakes01

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.

flakeyjakes03

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.

52 Responses to Flakey Jake’s

  • 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. [email protected]

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Comments