3521 Central Avenue - Jack in the Box

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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue, Riverside

3521 Central Avenue
(Google Maps)

Jack in the Box, San Diego
(Jack in the Box, Inc.)

Jack in the Box, Mark I

Jack in the Box, Mark II

Jack in the Box, Mark III

March 2011
3521 Central Avenue

Dating from the late 1960s, one of the oldest Jack in the Box fast food restaurants in Riverside is no more. Though certainly not a structure worthy of historic merit, we thought we'd take this opportunity to look back at the whimsical designs of the original Jack in the Box (JITB) restaurants.

According to the company's website, the first JITB was opened by Robert Oscar Peterson in San Diego in 1951. An outgrowth of Peterson's earlier "drive-in" diners called Topsy's and later Oscar's, JITB is said to have pioneered the use of drive-thru service using an intercom ordering system. (Those who lived in Southern California prior to 1980, may remember placing orders at JITB via a "talking clown.")

By 1966, the chain had grown to 180 locations, mostly in California and the Southwestern U.S. In 1968, Peterson -- whose Foodmaker, Inc. ran the restaurants -- sold the chain to Ralston Purina Co., who remained the owner until 1985.

It was during Ralston Purina's ownership in which "Jack" -- the clown atop the drive-thru menus -- was "blown up" as part of an extensive television campaign in 1980. The makeover was an effort to broaden the chain's appeal with adults. In 1994, after several years in isolation, "Jack" returned as the chain's spokesperson during the "Jack's back" advertising campaign, a role he retains to this day.

Back to the two oldest Riverside locations. The city's planning database indicates permits for 3521 Central Avenue (near the Riverside Plaza) and 3434 Fourteenth Street (downtown) were issued in 1968. According to the permits, both locations were two stories in height with 1175 and 1776 square feet respectively (though they look to be the same size) and a value of $24,000 each.

The architect listed on the permit for the downtown location (and presumably, the Plaza location as well) is Donald D. Goertz. A quick search of the Internet found an American Institute of Architects (AIA) entry for Donald Dean Goertz, who's also listed in the AIA's archives as being a staff architect for Foodmaker, Inc. beginning in 1967.

Based upon what we've found, the earlier JITBs offered both walk-up and drive-thru service, but no interior dining. The exterior designs used bright colors and fonts popular during the 1950s and 1960s to emphasize the drive-thru and overall "box" aspect of the JITB name. A San Diego website specializing in mid-century architecture lists Russell Forester as the architect for these early designs.

We're not clear on whether the two Riverside locations built in 1968 sported these original whimsical designs. It's likely they didn't, primarily due to the different architects used. However, it's possible they may have sported at least some form of the earlier designs -- particularly that of the Mark III concept -- as their current "mansard" look conforms to that found on many early SoCal JITB locations since remodeled (Chula Vista, San Clemente, San Diego). Maybe someone can confirm what the original designs for the two Riverside locations were like?

As for the Central Avenue location, we were unable to confirm that a new JITB will replace the now-demolished structure. However, the demolition permit seems to indicate a new JITB is indeed on its way. Browsing the company's website, we found what appears to be the latest prototype (notice the use of "Santee" indicating the restaurant's location -- could this be a future JITB motif?).

Update 04/16: Construction of a new JITB is well underway.

Update 08/06: The new JITB reopened in late July.

Change in logo
(Jack in the Box)
Old school

March 2011
3521 Central Avenue
April 2011
3521 Central Avenue

April 2011
3521 Central Avenue
April 2011
3521 Central Avenue

May 2011
3521 Central Avenue
May 2011
3521 Central Avenue

June 2011
3521 Central Avenue
June 2011
3521 Central Avenue

July 2011
3521 Central Avenue
July 2011
3521 Central Avenue

* Courtesy of www.burningsettlerscabin.com

Sources: Jack in the Box Inc., City of Riverside, ModernSanDiego.com, Wikipedia, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Los Angeles Times


I wish we could have one that looked like that JITB, Mark II. That would be cool. I'm kind of over the stacked stone facade's of everything now days, we need some variety.

RIP JITB of my youth.

Whoa! I checked out some of the other new Jack in the Box locations that have opened recently, some in San Diego, and they have fire places! Pretty cool. I like the new designs too.

it looks nice and will fit in with the rest of the riverside plaza. now they need to hurry and fill the empty spaces at the plaza left behind by the coffee depot and citrus city grille.

@Jason -- We remember when the original Taco Bell's had fire pits outside and many Pizza Hut locations had fire places inside.

@Krystal -- We couldn't agree more about the JITB Mark II design (and are glad to see more folks beginning to appreciate the colorful and whimsical designs of the 1960s -- too bad most are already gone and/or disappearing fast!). And though we'd rather have today's "stacked stone" motif over the bland stucco that pervaded commercial architecture for much of the 1980s and 1990s, we also agree that it's being overused and is now causing a similar monotonous landscape as did the stucco.

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This page contains a single entry by RXSQ published on March 15, 2011 8:42 PM.

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