Wally's Burgers eyes spring opening at New Westminster's River Market
An iconic East Vancouver burger joint will soon be serving its beefy delights at New Westminster's River Market.
Wally's Burgers has signed up for a space in the market's Food 360 section on the lower floor. The large Wally's neon sign was a landmark on Kingsway in Vancouver for decades. The drive-in had its heyday in the ’60s when young people cruised Kingsway on weekend evenings.
In 2008, the original location near Earles Street closed but Gord Bemister, who purchased the brand, reopened nearby at 49th Avenue and Elliott Street. He set up a successful seasonal outlet in North Vancouver's Cates Park near the original Crab Shack, which signed on last year to open an outlet in River Market.
"It was actually kind of mutual," said Bemister of connecting with market owner Mark Shieh. "I'm always looking for potential new locations. It just happened. I'm not sure who called who first. It was something like where I called him and he was just about to dial me."
Bemister recalls taking his kids when they were younger to the Quay, but hadn't been recently until connecting with Shieh.
"We really liked what he was doing, and we thought it would be a good project to be involved in," said Bemister. "We liked the concept, it was a good fit for us."
Though the original Wally's was a drive-in, that won't be the case at the Quay. What Wally's does have is loyal customers to their Deluxe Wagon and Beefy Boy burgers, which is a combo burger with a hot dog, Bemister said.
"We've been doing this since 2009 and we have all of the customers that were on Kingsway that are still with us. They come from a long way away," he added.
He announced the new location on the Wally's Facebook site Monday night and the response was quick and favourable, especially from customers who crave the classic burgers that live in outlying areas.
Although Wally's, started in 1962 by Austrian immigrant Wally Stritzel, is a blast from the past, there are some modern items on the menu. The New Westminster outlet will carry a meatless burger with a fried egg serving as the patty.
Although the joint won't have a big neon sign like it did on Kingsway, "There will be a part of it that looks like the original location," said Bemister.
He anticipates the outlet will open about May 1.
"We're really excited about it, we think it's going to be a good spot, at least we hope it is."