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22 February, 2004 / Erik

I caught myself thing about the Farrell’s on Rosem…

I caught myself thing about the Farrell’s on Rosemead and Valley the other day. That was my favorite special treat/birthday spot. The place hasn’t been in operation for, at least, 16 years. Like the Pizza Pub on Garfeild and Valley, it had been converted into some sort of Asian Buffet.

I discovered that it had been a nationwide chain. It started in Portland and spread everywhere. The schtick of the place was it’s Turn of the Centuring theming, playing piano, and the Drum that would be beaten in honor of a birthday guest. Think of Uncle Moe’s Million Dollar Birthday Fries. Similiar set up. In fact the costume he wears is very much what they wore at Farrell’s. One remains in operation in San Diego and the new owners of the Franchise are testing a new location in Santa Clarita.

Now, here’s a weird story. One of the birthday’s I remember going there and being hassled by this girl who shared my birthday … mind you I was four at the time and I chafed at her impetuousness for having been born on my day. Two years later, I met her again, at school. Her name as Annie Arroyo and we had to to sit next to each other for the better part of four years.

So, yesterday I put on the Simpsons comentaries for season three. Near the beginning of Lisa’s Pony, Homer takes Lisa to Phineas J. Butterfat’s to appologize for not bringing the saxophone reed. One of the writers or Groening himself says, “Now this place was based on Farrell’s.” Considering that Farrell’s originated in Portland, it’s no stretch that Groening purposefully included the reference.

Meanwhile, Bob Farrell, the co-founder has gone on to be a succesful motivational speaker. He sells copies of his speech for $700 a pop to clueless firms that just don’t understand salesmanship. He calls his speech/video “Give ’em the Pickle!” According to the literature “the Pickle” is Bob’s term for costumer service.

The whole concept is tacky, in its way … but it seems to have been a rather benign chain and there seems to be an overall sense of goodwill for it. Former franchise owner Roger Baker operates a website dedicated to the operation. He has fond memories and a story about the one in San Diego mentions an employee who moved from franchise to franchise as they closed. I have yet to find a picture of the location on Rosemead and Valley and I know there are none in the family archive.

I can’t help but think I will go to Farrell’s when I’m home next month.

Sadly, the original was torn down last year after continuous operation of nearly forty years.


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