Landrum's came to Reno on a railroad flat car, off-loaded from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad tracks behind the property, and assembled on its present site in 1947 by Eunice Landrum, who named her new diner "Landrum's Hamburger System No. 1." The system was intended to be a chain of hamburger shops, but the original expansion plans never developed. Eunice Landrum sold the diner in 1953 to Olive Calvert, who operated it until 1986. It has had a series of owners—and uses—since then.
Roadside diners trace their roots to Providence, Rhode Island in the 1870s, but the American hamburger was born in Wichita in 1921, the brainchild of fry-cook Walt Anderson, the founder of White Castle Hamburger System. In the 1930s, diners and hamburger stands were proliferating along with America’s love of the automobile. To meet the need for easy-to-build, easy-to-clean restaurants, various companies developed porcelain-covered steel buildings with parts that bolted together. Arthur H. Valentine in Wichita was an innovator in the design and construction of hamburger stands.
All one needed was a piece of land on which to lay the foundation, and provide utility hook-ups. It was the perfect entrepreneurial activity for a country coming out of a devastating depression. These small diners made good economic sense, since they were one-man operations with limited menus. After World War II, small prefabricated diners offered ready investment opportunities for returning veterans.
Landrum's was a landmark for three generations of Reno citizens. In 1984, it was listed in the Nevada State Register of Historic Places. In recognition of the honor, Nevada's governor Richard Bryan visited Landrum's and sampled the fare. Of the hamburger, Bryan said, "The bun is fresh. The beef is tasty. The lettuce is crispy, the tomato firm, and the onion tangy." Of the diner, Governor Bryan said, "This is a Reno legend. In the 1920s and 1930s, diners like this were everywhere. This is the last of its kind. It is a part of Americana and I hope they keep it here forever."