Wally’s Burgers & 50s Burgers
By Brandon Yip, Contributor
Like drive-in theatres from the 1950s, old fashioned burger joints are a rarity today. However, one familiar burger spot still exists: Wally’s Burgers. The original Vancouver location at 2703 Kingsway first opened in 1962. It would become a staple for burger lovers for close to five decades. The establishment was also known for its famous albeit rusted tall neon sign that could be seen from passing motorists heading east or west along Kingsway. Wally’s Burgers closed its doors in March 2008.
However, customers did not have to be sad for long as the restaurant would be resurrected when the new owner, Gord Bemister, took over the operations. In the summer of 2009, Wally’s Burgers made a return to the delight of burger lovers—opening a seasonal location at Cates Park in North Vancouver. Bemister later secured a new location in 2010 near Killarney at 2661 E 49th Avenue in Vancouver.
Wally’s Burgers has had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has been difficult on all small businesses, especially those of us operating in the restaurant sector. Being shut down for two months was pretty challenging and then having to create enough space to properly physically distance we had to remove our counter seating,” Bemister said in an email interview with the Other Press. “The challenges are ongoing as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve. We anticipate operating on reduced hours for the foreseeable future.” Wally’s Burgers reopened on May 22, offering take out only—as their new hours are 12 to 6 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. As for the Cates Park located in North Vancouver, Bemister states he is currently in discussions with the District of North Vancouver to reopen at the end of this month. “Of course, things are constantly changing so we recommend following us on Instagram and Facebook as we update as things move ahead,” Bemister said.
Despite the reduced hours, the main signature burgers have not been compromised and are still on the menu. “We are most famous for the Chuckwagon burger but really all of our burgers are pretty evenly enjoyed by customers,” Bemister said. He proudly mentions that his daughter, Jessica, has created a burger of her own called the Hotshot burger: “It has jalapeno, bacon, cheese, chipotle mayo and our famous Wally’s relish. It has become very popular!”
Furthermore, another burger eatery is 50s Burgers located at 7741 Edmonds Street in Burnaby. Dine-in service continues as the restaurant has two stickers on both windows with lines on the ground to encourage social distancing. They also offer take-out and delivery. Brian Tahririha has been the owner since 2012, and says in an email interview with the Other Press, the appearance of COVID-19 in March did not harm his business: “Our business picked up quite a bit as a result of people who started looking for originality and quality.” Tahririha states that he did not have to make many adjustments in wake of the pandemic.
Tahririha takes pride in giving his customers the best quality ingredients. After taking over the restaurant, he decided to stop serving processed food—instead only serving fresh quality ingredients. The freshness all begins early in the morning as they bake their buns fresh in house, their fresh sirloin patties are hand pressed as well, and their freshly cut fries contain no preservatives, additives, or fillers. Tahririha says that “all items in my menu are delicious; however, I recommend staying away from the LA King burger, Mom’s Spicy Chicken, and Bulldog (hot dog). They are extremely addictive!” Despite the pandemic, burger lovers are still able to get their burger fix at these two eateries. Whether it is at Wally’s Burgers or 50s Burgers, customers will be ok sacrificing their clean and sanitized hands temporarily for some messy but deliciously tasty gourmet burgers.