The Sunday night closing of The Corvette Diner in Hillcrest was an emotional experience for co-owner David Cohn. His 22-year-old, kid-friendly, iconic eatery closed its doors—to be resurrected in late June in a new Liberty Station location.
For Hillcrest's last light’s-out, nostalgia was in the air. Past employees came back with kids of their own. A former DJ drove down from Orange County for one last set.
Cohn was getting choked up, so he left before the night was over—while the DJ played the not-so-sentimental “Hit the Road, Jack.”
The new version of the kitschy, 1950s-style diner will return in a building double the size of the original. Gone, however, will be the eatery’s most-talked-about calling card—the tossing of Bazooka bubble gum on the table by waitresses as the check arrives. Even the practice of throwing straws as guests first sit down is…up in the air.
“There’ll be less throwing of things,” says Cohn. “We’ve had some complaints over the years. We’ve certainly scared some people—thank goodness we’ve never hurt anybody.”
Another concern with bubble gum is a messy tradition that’d begun in Hillcrest. Patrons were planting used gum wads on the outside brick wall. A gum trail also was created from the entrance to a nearby valet parking stand.
“In Liberty Station, the building we’re moving to—Building 24, the former Officer’s Club—is designated as historic,” says Cohn. “We can’t let it get gummed up.”
Alternative hand-out candies are being considered. Co-owner Lesley Cohn favors tootsie rolls. Hubby David says Safety Pops and Abba-Zaba bars are other possibilities.
My two cents: Let’s see Rolos make a comeback. The old slogan was: “You can roll a Rolo to your friend, its chocolate covered caramel from end to end…” They’re spherical—for safe and easy table rolling. Best of all, they don’t stick to historical buildings.