We’re talking here about a small chain called The Great American Food & Beverage Company. There were a couple of these around Los Angeles in the early seventies…one in Westwood, one in Santa Monica and maybe others. The two things I remember about them are that the portions were huge to the point of being impractical — you’d haul home about 80% of your entree and live off it for days — and that the servers would take turns performing with a small live band. Once, I ordered a hamburger and they brought me this footstool-sized mass of meat and bun surrounded by enough fries to stock a McDonald’s for a month.

But I was sans ketchup, and when I turned to ask our waiter for some, I found him up on a platform, performing what turned out to be the world’s longest version of “Rubberband Man.” I think he did about ninety choruses while I failed to flag down any other employee and my burger cooled to tepid. Finally, long after I’d given up any chance of having the hamburger the way I liked it and had begun to eat it dry, the waiter noted the omission, hopped down from stage and fetched me a bottle of Heinz while still performing “Rubberband Man.” It was one of those moments when you almost feel like you ought to tip.

57 Responses to GAF&BC

  • JOHN BUCK says:

    High Everyone

    we’re working on a revival of the same concept, only upgraded and 40+ years later.

    i’m going to be starting a part duex, of the great American restaurant dream.

    just got the corporation docs started and now looking for people familiar with the concept, menu and the stories of long past us all.
    my direct number is [ 813 ] 500 – 8386

    and my email is : ULTRA18INNOVATIONS @ GMAIL . COM

    the website is ordered, the menu is in the process and the first location will be in the TAMPA BAY tri county and at least 3 others in the area; and then to ORLANDO and MIAMI, KEY WEST and NAPLES to start.

    let me know what you all think, and if you would support it.

    also, looking for any memorabilia or pics, menus, post cards, stories, especially if you have a Polaroid of you visiting, eating or working/singing there.

    anything appreciated – we want to relaunch this concept in an updated fashion, at many locations around the states.

  • bobbi says:

    I met my husband at kelbos on fairfax after dumping a really bad date. went with my roommate and got flirted with by a group of offered a ride in a cad convertable, told them i had my own. he was sitting on the hood of my car when we got outside . gave him my work number and went on our first date to disneyland and that was in 1958. married 62 years

  • Leslie says:

    The Great American Food and Beverage Company was an amazing restaurant! Located in Santa Monica, California in the 1970’s, the restaurant was located at the corner of 9th and Wilshire Blvd. They served generous portions of beef ribs, giant hamburgers, among other dishes, and YES an “orgy” dessert. The dessert was served on a large rectangular metal tray. In the middle of the tray were two parfait glasses. One glass contained blueberry compote and the other, filled with hot fudge, had a banana sticking out and two half peaches next to the banana. The parfait glasses were surrounded with scoops of ice-cream in a variety of flavors. The tray served the entire table. In order to work there, the waitstaff had to be musically inclined with the ability to play an instrument and sing. It was great fun! I was sad to see the place close and remember it fondly!

  • barb says:

    Joe Watson: I remember the Great Northern in Sacramento. What year did you work there? I worked in the cocktail lounge. 1970s. Great restaurant and lounge with excellent live music. Do you remember any names of other employees? Jimmy Beach comes to my mind. Great singer/acoustic guitar player.

  • Julie Varon says:

    I was a singing hostess at the one at Santa Monica Blvd & La Cienga. Fun memories.

  • john tyers says:

    In the late 60’s early 70’s, there was a restaurant/bar on Santa Monica Blvd., probably 10 blocks from the beach on the Montana Blvd. side of the street, that featured server/performers. At random times the servers would go to one of several columns in the room, turn on a mounted light above them and sing. They were all pros and very good and it was a blast. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Would like to know the name of the place. Thanks.

  • JOHN BUCK says:

    I remember working as a cook at the The Great American Food and Beverage Company, in November in 1978, with Peter Tork of the Monkees, it was a great job of an 18 year old, who wasn’t very experienced, and a new dad to boot.

    Peter held my new baby daughter and sang her a lullaby, she’s now 40 years old. Great times and great food. I thinking about a The Great American Food and Beverage Company revival, and have started working on the makeover on the concept.

    anybody interested in talking to me about the Venture recreation, can contact me at :: ULTRA18INNOVATIONS @ GMAIL

    The Great American Food and Beverage Company shall rise again, to make its conceptual revival, that will carry o nthe traditions and retro vibe of Poppy and the crew who started it all.

    Thanks to all who are interested in seeing this become a reality again.

    P.S. Any contributions of signs, menue’s, logo’s etc, would be appreciated

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