The Burger That Ate L.A.

We all know that programmatic architecture in Los Angeles was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but here’s an example of a programmatic structure, during the 1980s and 1990s… 

The Burger That Ate L.A. was a latecomer in Los Angeles' venerable pantheon of fantasy architecture. It ranked up there with Randy's Donuts and Tail o' the Pup. 

The Burger That Ate L.A. held its own on trendy Melrose Ave. The bun-shaped dome once devoured the corner of Stanley Avenue. The unconventional facade (with sesame seeds) was shaped like a giant cheeseburger had glass bricks forming as ketchup and oozing with onions. The structure also appeared to have a missing bite chomping on City Hall. 

Its outdoor dining area provided front-row seats to Melrose's street scene and wacky theater of the kooky and absurd. Inside, you were most likely to sit under a portion of the ceiling that looked like a huge tomato slice. This amazing attempt at wackiness was designed by Solberg and Lowe Architects and created by owner David Alderman.  

It can also be seen in the pilot episode of Melrose Place. 

Everything on the menu was given a name from an old horror movie, such as Key sLime Pie, the Tuna from the Black Lagoon, and the Incredible Shrinking Ham. 

Here's a vintage T shirt too. Always wondered if this design was a nod to the Hard Rock Cafe. 

The Burger That Ate L.A. was swallowed up by a Starbucks in 1997. 
Sadly, its original walkway only hints at its whimsical past. Someone should bring it back and rename it The Burger That Ate Starbucks. 

Alison Martino is a writer, television producer and on-air host on Spectrum News 1. She founded the FACEBOOK PAGE Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. In addition to writing for Los Angeles Magazine and VLA, Martino muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram 


  1. Dave Alderman owned Moonshadows and Nantucket Light in Malibu as well.


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