Say bye bye to Irv’s Burgers. The West Hollywood institution is closing on Saturday.
Local residents were first alerted to the closing by a posting on Irv’s Instagram page, @irvsburgers. Sonia Hong, the owner, had previously tried to sell the popular hamburger joint. A post on Facebook in October 2017 said “Irvs
burger is currently for sale. If u want to keep this place available for all please send me a message… even if it is as a investor. Sonia is wanting to sell ownership so her and momma can be at home more. She will continue to work there after it sells to make sure customers are taken care of.”
Saturday’s closing marks the end of several years of uncertainty for Irv’s, which has been in existence under one name or another since 1946. Originally located at 8289 Santa Monica Blvd. near Sweetzer, it was known as Queenies and then Joe’s until it was purchased in 1970 by Irv Gendis. At one point it was known a hangout for rock stars such as Jim Morrison of The Doors.
Hong bought the place from Gendis in 2000 and ran it with her mother, known as Mama-Soon, and her brother Soo (Sean) Hong, who died in September of last year. Under the Hong’s ownership, Irv’s became known as a community institution, famed as much for Sonia’s handwritten remarks on the paper plates and bags as for the burgers.
In recent years, the Hongs faced several efforts to demolish Irv’s. The City of West Hollywood designated Irv’s Burgers as a cultural resource in 2005 after a campaign dubbed the “Burger Brigade” that was sparked by the property owner’s plan to demolish Irv’s and use the area for parking for a Peet’s Coffee planned for the adjacent lot. That lot later became the site of Beach Nation, an outdoor restaurant that closed not long after it opened.
Irv’s closed in October 2013 after being served an eviction notice by Standard Oil, the owner of its lot and that of Beach Nation, which had attempted to double Irv’s lease. It moved to its current location at 7998 Santa Monica Blvd. near North Laurel.
The former Irv’s site on Santa Monica and Sweetzer is home to the recently opened Conservatory, a project of Paul Kalt’s the Kalt Group. The Conservatory offers a decidedly more expensive menu and an international list of fine wines.