Lone Ranger Restaurant

Around 1970, food places began popping up around Southern California sporting the names of two great cowboy stars.  You had your Roy Rogers Roast Beef Sandwich places which through changes of ownership, evolved into the current chain that bears Roy’s moniker.  In their original form, they were more like Arby’s but much better.  Now, they aren’t.  You also had around L.A., five or six Lone Ranger restaurants, including one at Pico and Westwood and another over on Wilshire a few blocks west of Bundy.  I remember liking the name and the looks of the places and being very, very disappointed in the cuisine.  It was difficult to bite into one of their burgers and not get to wondering what had become of Silver.

But there was a reason to go the Lone Ranger restaurants and that was that on weekends, the Lone Ranger himself would appear at one or another of them.  And I don’t mean any old out-of-work actor in a mask.  This out-of-work actor was Clayton Moore, himself…and boy, did he still look good in the costume.  To this day, I’m kicking myself that for some reason, it never dawned on me to take a camera and get my picture with Kemosabe.

Moore would arrive in a very nice trailer/dressing room, accompanied by a very Caucasian lady in an Indian squaw costume.  She called herself “Tonta” and she was apparently an executive in the Lone Ranger business, which I think was then the Wrather Corporation.  Mr. Moore would shake hands and pose for pics and sign autographs, largely for folks who weren’t always aware that they were in the presence of the actual guy who’d played the role for years on TV.  If you said something to him that indicated you knew who he was (i.e., Clayton Moore, not the Lone Ranger), you’d see a glimmer of delight behind the mask and he’d talk to you in a whole different way, answering questions about his films and TV appearances.  He might even take you into the trailer for the kind of conversation he couldn’t have in front of the general public where he always had to be The Masked Man, as opposed to the actor.  And if you were really lucky, he’d give you a silver bullet.  He didn’t give those to just anybody.

Despite this, and for reasons obvious to anyone who actually ate at one, the Lone Ranger restaurants were a quick flop.  I think they all closed in less than a year. But it was worth enduring the burgers to shake hands with Clayton Moore and, yes, I still have my silver bullet.

39 Responses to Lone Ranger Restaurant

  • Jim Burke Large says:

    I lived in the Valley and we went to the Reseda Blvd location often. I remember that I had my 8th B-Day party there, and inside the restaurant there were special booths, with one being a classic western-style covered wagon. I was so excited that my dad reserved the wagon for my birthday dinner… super SUPER cool to eat in the wagon! Does anyone else remember there being these neat, dressed up booths? I also recall getting a silver bullet from Mr. Moore

  • Gino lozano says:

    Pico & Westwood back in the 70s. I remember the white horse on top of the restaurant. Yes, the hamburgers were better than McDonalds.

  • Joan Buffandeau says:

    I took my 2 sons to see the Lone Ranger and I was more excited than they were. I knew it was Clayton Moore by his voice. He was my favorite. I am watching him right now on Cozy TV.

  • Steven Jorgenson says:

    This is sure an interesting article. I’m very familiar with the history of the Lone Ranger character. I’d never heard of a Lone Ranger restaurant.

  • Jerry Mezerow says:

    I lived near Pico and Westwood and spent a lot of time at the restaurant. Seemed that Clayton Moore was at this chain a lot. I remember they always gave out pictures and promotional material. Never saw Jay Silverheels. In the ’80’s I talked to Moore at a book signing he was putting on. We talked about how much he enjoyed the restaurant appearances. He truly loved the Lone Ranger part and loved his fans.

  • M. Keegan says:

    My father took me to meet The Lone Ranger when I was 7 years-old at the Santa Monica location on Wilshire Blvd. We were late, and my father was apologizing for missing Clayton Moore. The truth was, my father was almost as excited as I was to meet him. As we pulled into the parking lot the crowd was gone and I was very disappointed, but my father The Lone Ranger walking alone. We quickly parked and my father hustled me over to Clayton Moore, who couldn’t have been nicer. He sat me up on a fence, and there he talked to me for several minutes as I stared back bug-eyed, staring back in awe, unable to speak. Why my father did not bring a camera is beyond me, but it was a different time, people were not so picture obsessed. The memory remains and makes me smile.

  • Mark waterhouse says:

    Did this restaurant have jail cells as booths? I remember a restaurant in the 70’s that had them. Maybe is was Cisco’s. Anyone remember the cells?

  • Lionel Burke says:

    It was driving me crazy trying to remember the name of the take-out Italian place on the north side of Wilshire along that stretch say from 26th east to Barrington – Two Guys from Italy doooh! and a friend tells me it’s previous incarnation was The Lone Ranger, he has a polaroid picture with Clayton Moore from the opening lol, one of his still-reasured possessions!

  • John Hurley says:

    All I can say is that the one cited in the article for Wilshire west of Bundy was gone by early 1978 as I walked that stretch on my way to work. The restaurants I remember were the Bicycle Shop, and down farther Friar’s and Uncle John’s. Also, a Mexican restaurant that I think was named Hombre’s.

  • Lisa Sealey says:

    I was about 5 or 6 when my Mom took my sister and I to the Lone Ranger, on Crenshaw Blvd. It was great! We as little kids got to refill our own drinks as they were at “kid level”. Also, at kid level were the Licensing and Merchandising items that could be bought. Guns, Holsters, bullets, etc. It was great. My sister and I chased the bad guys off of Citrus Avenue in 1970. :)

  • Ron Stark says:

    I worked at the Lone Ranger restaurant. I still cook and now teach culinary arts too. The beans! Here’s the best one; use Bush’s original baked beans as the beans base. Depending on the size of can used you’ll also need maple flavoring, sold in the baking section of your market and Dole Crushed pineapple in syrup NOT natural juice. Combine beans right outta the can, a splash of maple flavor to taste and a generous spoonful of crushed pineapple to taste. DO NOT OVER DO EITHER MAPLE FLAVOR OR PINEAPPLE……LESS IS MORE. Heat through but don’t over cook or the beans will be mushy. Serve and enjoy!

  • Homer Taylor says:

    I too went to the one on Crenshaw Blvd and Rodeo Rd and remember how those baked beans stood out more than anything else on the menu. Does anybody out there have a recipe for them?! I’d love to take a taste trip back down that memory lane!

  • Joe says:

    I went to the one in Huntington and it was just great to actually see the Lone Ranger. I was fairly small and I think I remember seeing Tonto but am not sure. If I am not mistaken, then they had little hamburgers for 25 cents. The place was great and it was sad to see the remnants of that horseshoe sign every time you drove by, but knowing that you saw the Lone Ranger in person put a smile on your face.

  • James Rothering says:

    I was the electrical superintendent for Winick Electric at Wilshire branch, which was actually in Santa Monica. The general contractor was Morley construction. Construction moved very fast. The ceiling light fixtures were in the shape of sheriff stars probably over 4 feet across. Since the fixtures were not U.L. approved they had to be specially approved which was done on the site while my crew were waiting to install them. There was a underground circuit to a sign which crossed the parking lot. This conduit of course had to be inspected prior to burial, however the pavers would not wait and started to pave over the conduit before Dick Coulter, the Santa Monica inspector arrived. Dick grabbed a shovel and started turning out the asphalt to uncover the conduit digging a trench through the fresh laid pavement. I then took dick to lunch up Wilshire. He was also one of my instructors during my earlier apprenticeship.

  • Richard M. says:

    I worked at the one on Pico and Westwood. I was 15 years old. Got paid $1.35 an hour, plus a hamburger and a drink for lunch. I worked the cash register and was told to push the all you can drink fountain and the french fries. Never saw Tonto or the Lone Ranger.

  • Jim says:

    I remember as a kid that my parents took me there. It was located on the
    southeast corner at Slater and Beach. I remember the 25 cent hamburger
    and the unlimited drinks. They had a cool big square plastic container for the fountain drinks. Good times for sure. That place has always stuck in my mind.

  • John Evans says:

    I too grew-up in Huntingtion Beach and remeber going to the one at Beach and Slater. I recall working very hard to wake my dad up on Sunday morning to take my two sisters and I there as he had promised all week. I remember the stir-up sign out front and the glass case inside which contained the Lone Ranger’s black and silver two pistols gun belt and mask. Fond memories, similar to going up to Farrell’s Ice Cream up the street which also went away in the same period.

  • Jan Johnson says:

    I used to live in Huntington Beach and my parents took us to The Lone Ranger several times. I remember getting little Lone Ranger toys there, they may had come with some sort of kids meal. I also remember seeing Clayton Moore there a few times. It’s possible the toys were given out by him, I really don’t remember.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    For those curious younguns here scratching their head about who the Lone Ranger is, try this: http://tinyurl.com/q7gxk3k Just imagine, that was perhaps for most kids their first exposure to Classical Music per The William Tell Overture!!!
    ~ Before being on TV, The Ranger (and Silver) and Tonto (and Paint) were on the radio weekly. For kids growing up ‘back East’ however, it was sometimes difficult trying to picture what was going on cuz most of us had never seen things like mesas, gulches, and arroyos, let alone a cactus!, which CA kids were more likely to have experienced. Beyond that, I was always proud that one of the 1st third language phrases I learned was Indian…i.e. Kemo sabe! I say third, as so many of “us” grew up in a second language household to begin with…LOL (Trivia: who was a major sponsor? (Hint: round oat cereal!) Hi Ho….!

  • Fred kessler says:

    I lived on Harvard and Wilshire blvd. I used to ride my bike for lunch. I remember the grape drink fountain as my favorite.

  • Michael says:

    In the 1970s. I remember the fountain drink stand adjacent to the seating area at the location on Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road (now Jack’s Chili Restaurant). As kids, we mixed our drink flavors and called it a “suicide.” Good times.

  • Eddie Moreno says:

    My father took me to the one in Reseda. Clayton Moore & Silver were there for the grand opening and I met him. I remember shaking his hand with those black leather gloves. I have lost the photo and the bullets, but still have great memories. I was 7 or 8 years old and i was not to impressed with the burgers.

  • Tom Perkoski says:

    When I was a boy in the late 60’s my father brought me to the Torrance location. I was wearing my toy Lone Ranger hat, mask & holster with chrome six shooter. We met Clayton Moore & he talked to us for some time. I was so excited & to my amazement he gave me a silver bullet!

  • LM says:

    I went to the same location mentioned by Jim Trujillo, located on Beach Blvd. in Huntington Beach. We kids were watching Lone Ranger reruns at the time and I was thrilled by the restaurant. The steak sandwich and endless drinks sound familiar, but what I remember the most was thinking that we might actually run into the Lone Ranger and Tonto in the restaurant, hah! I also remember getting small prizes each time we went.

  • Laurel says:

    I remember the restaurant when it first opened on Reseda Blvd – can recall the tv commercials too. I was very young at the time& I don’t think I was ever there; I actually thought The Lone Ranger owned the place:) I know my uncle saw Clayton Moore there – told us kids about it – we were all so thrilled. O for the good old days in the valley!

  • Pete Ehrlich says:

    Heck ya I remember the Lone Ranger Restaurant. I worked there for about 3 months when it first opened. I read the posts here and have an answer as to why some of the food was…. “Not the best”. I was a cook and may have cooked your burger. I wasn’t nuts about the dried onion they had us use, but one day I opened a box of pre-made beef patties. Now they were not frozen. I guess that freezing the meat would have prevented it from turning green :( but yep that’s what I had…. a box of green meat. I called over the manager and showed him the box of GREEN MEAT and he said “After you cook it, it won’t be green”. I quit that job soon after the green meat episode. I don’t remember Clayton More pulling up on Silver. I would have remembered that cuz I was a fan of the Lone Ranger as a kid. I felt pretty good about wearing the white hat until the Green Meat. I worked at the West Los Angeles store for reference.

  • alan colella says:

    in the late1960s in Torrance on hawthorne blvd -lone ranger restaurant with a spur up front – haven’t seen any pictures of it though .

  • John Hindsill says:

    Steve–
    My father used to make that British lady’s egg dish for my brother and me, except he made it in butter. Really yummy with Log Cabin syrup. He (we) called it an Egyptian Eye. I’ve also heard it called a One-eyed Jack. I still make one for myself on occasion.

  • Steve says:

    Lee Guemple, that’s called a fried egg sandwich, made by kids that were left ot fend for themselves. I still make that to this day, except I used an English muffin now, which makes it a McMuffin I guess. Only one step more complicated that a quesadilla or a grilled cheese, both of which I am intimately familiar with =) My Mom used to make a breakfast dish which she learned from British lady, a slice of bread with a hole cut in the middle, fried in bacon grease and an egg dumped into the hole until it was set. I can feel my arteries closing now, but it sure was good!

  • Martha LaMont says:

    I took my son (age 4) to the opening of the Lone Ranger restaurant
    in Santa Monica. Somewhere I do have a picture of him with the
    Lone Ranger.

  • Ed Crosby says:

    I ate many times at the Wilshire location. The most outstanding food item I remember was their baked beans. They had a most unusual flavor. I would like to know how they were made.

  • Mike Reno says:

    I worked at the one in Reseda. Clayton Moore was there for the grand opening and I met him. Steak sandwiches and horseradish in the thousand island style bun dressing set us aside from the arches. Those 10 burgers for a buck sales were crazy!

  • Arnold Gold says:

    Not only do I remember Clayton Moore but I remember the actor who came before him on radio. M W F @7.30 pm at least in new york. His name was Brace Beemer the radio announcer who took over for the radio actor who died in 1941. Some of my fondest memories with my dad was listening to the show with him.

  • Lee Guemple says:

    When I was a child my mother used to make “Lone Ranger” sandwiches for breakfast: An egg broken into a buttered fry pan and, once partly cooked, topped with a piece of bread buttered on both sides and then turned so that it was fried on both sides. My older brother continued to make them into his teens. Anyone ever heard of this?

  • Don West says:

    I remember these restaurants, though never went in any myself; I had heard the food really wasn’t that good. I think the stores were ultimately short-lived. Terrible shame as Clayton Moore WAS/IS the Lone Ranger, and to have seen him in person would have been a great experience. I don’t know if he had any personal comments on the food quality, probably out of his hands.

  • BL says:

    I remember the one on Pico and Westwood. I had a friend work there. Yes, free refills and the hamburgers were better than McDonalds at the time.

  • Mike Frank says:

    I went to the one next to the Picwood theater. I can still remember how bad the burger was.

  • Jim Trujillo says:

    I too remember the Lone Ranger Restaurant. I live and went to the one located in Huntington Beach. It was on the corner of Beach and Slater. After the Lone Ranger closed a new restaurant open by the name of Two Guys from Italy but they used the horse shoe markuee as theirs. That horse shoe marquee stood there for over 20 yrs. Walgreens is on the same location today. I never got a silver bullet but I did get to see the Lone Ranger and will never forget the free refills.

  • Craig D. Smith says:

    I never actually went to a Lone Ranger restaurant but I do remember the TV commercials and as far as I know they were the first to offer what has now become a fast food standard: the endless refill on soft drinks. Back in the day you ordered your Coke from Mickey Dees or whoever and whatever was in the cup was all you got to drink. Since the Ranger restaurants never caught on I think it was Carl’s Jr. a decade later that introduced free refills and all the other places soon followed suit.

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