Restaurant to close October 17
By Sam Catanzaro
Burger joint Big Jo’s, a Santa Monica institution for over 65 years, is closing in the coming days.
According to owner John Lee, the restaurant, located on the corner of Broadway and 20th Street, will close on October 17. Since Lee announced the closure on social media this week, there has been an outpouring of support from the community.
“There is so much love. People have such an attachment to this place,” Lee said. “The food has just been really good and consistent. For me, when I eat it, it makes that connection to old-school-style burgers. It’s not like something you can get at a Shake Shack or one of these $20 gourmet burgers. It just kinda has its own unique flavor.”
John, his wife Joy, and her sister Hanalani took over the restaurant in 2016 from Joy’s aunt, who had run the restaurant for around 20 years.
“It used to be an old service station back in the 1940s and the original Big Jo…converted into a burger joint,” John said. “From then on it was passed through generations and decades from owner to owner. It’s been in our family since maybe late 1999 or early 2000, and it was transferred to us in 2016.”
According to John, the landlord is selling the property, forcing Big Jo’s out.
“Even Big Jo’s can’t survive the changing environment of new developments in Santa Monica,” John said in a press release announcing the closing. “This is a typical mom-and-pop joint. I think there was one of these in every city back in the day, but now the world has been changing so you don’t see too many of these restaurants anymore.”
John pointed to a development underway a few blocks east on Broadway and Cloverfield as an example of the way Santa Monica is changing.
“It’s kinda inevitable. It’s just the way the world is changing. I mean big developments. You see the new development down on Cloverfield? I feel like they are just going to duplicate that over here. I am not sure who the new buyer is or landlord is but this is a total redevelopment site and you know, I don’t think there is much the city can do, “John said. “I mean what can they do? Not allow builders and developers?”
John says that despite the fact Big Jo’s will be leaving the corner of 20th Street and Broadway later this month, he and his wife hope to relaunch in a new location.
“We have nothing concrete but me and my wife we decided, seeing the outpouring [of support].. .to figure something out,” John said.
Follow @Big_Jos_Burgers or www.bigjosburgers.com for updates and announcements on their future plans to relocate and re-open.