Near the end of Historic Route 66, Irv’s Burgers served breakfast favorites and classic LA-style burgers from a stand along what is now Santa Monica Boulevard. Five years ago the owners, Sonia, Sean, and “Mama” Hong, were forced to vacate the beloved stand, though they were able to find a new location with a five year lease down the road. Now, as of November 24, 2018, Irv’s is closed forever.
This haunting photo of the last day of operation, taken by West Hollywood resident David Bortolucci just says so much about the story of Irv’s. In the photo, Mama Hong sits, with her face in her arm, weeping, with the chairs pushed to the side and the place closed forever. Last year, co-owner Sean Hong, Sonia’s brother, died following complications from stroke.
In its last days, hordes of fans inundated Irv’s, many of whom paid their tributes on social media and waited in long lines for a final burger and a paper plate drawing with the words “Just For You” written on it. It’s a cruel and sad end for Irv’s, which first opened in 1946 then changed names once Irv Gendis purchased the business in 1970. The Hongs took over in 2000 and have run it ever since. In an article by LA Taco, Sonia Hong says the building’s owner and higher rents forced Irv’s to close. The iconic building that Irv’s once resided in still stands as it was designated an historical landmark. It’s part of a new restaurant and cocktail spot called Conservatory.