Filed Under Food

Landrum's Diner

The legendary South Virginia Street diner opened in 1947.

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." The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Images

Landrum's Diner in 1986
Landrum's Diner in 1986 Landrum's Diner remained a popular eatery in the 1980s and is pictured here in 1986. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1986
A popular place
A popular place Even on Sunday afternoons when traffic was light on Reno streets, Landrum's, at the intersection of Arroyo and South Virginia, was congested and sometimes backed up for hours. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Sara Beth Morgan
Landrum's, ca. 1980
Landrum's, ca. 1980 Landrum's Hamburger System No. 1 was the Aristocrat model of diner manufactured by the Valentine Diner Company of Wichita, Kansas. With stools for eight, Landrum's was a popular local hangout. Source: Nevada State Historic Preservation Office Date: ca. 1980
Landrum's, 1983
Landrum's, 1983 The distinctive Streamlined Moderne entrance to Landrum's Hamburger System No. 1. The exterior is made up of porcelain-enamel panels. Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form, Landrum's Diner Creator: Ana Beth Koval Date: 1983
Inside Landrum's, 1986
Inside Landrum's, 1986 Area residents fondly recall the sign posted above the cash register, available as a bumper sticker: "I sat on a stool at Landrum's," pictured here in 1986. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1986
Serving the burgers
Serving the burgers Day waitress Jo Michette serves it up in style to Reno locals in between cooking, washing dishes, preparing food, cleaning counters and joking with the customers. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Sara Beth Morgan
Open 24 Hours
Open 24 Hours Landrum's tiny tin building hardly compares to Reno's downtown skyscrapers, but its reputation for good food, good company and good prices was not so easily overshadowed. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Sara Beth Morgan
Minnie Presto's secret recipe
Minnie Presto's secret recipe Minnie Presto, a 15-year veteran chili-maker for Landrum's when this photo was taken, guarded her secret recipe as she stirred up her 40-lb. Saturday batch. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Sara Beth Morgan
Landrum's counter
Landrum's counter Cokes, coffee, counter-top music and a candid cook kept 'em comin' back. Creator: Sara Beth Morgan
Auto Title Loan, 2002
Auto Title Loan, 2002 After Landrum's closed its doors, the building was used for a variety of businesses. In 2002, it housed an auto title loan company. Creator: Max Chapman Date: 2002
Conscious Cuisine, 2011
Conscious Cuisine, 2011 In 2011, the former Landrum's building housed a restaurant named Conscious Cuisine. It was also repainted in its original two-toned scheme. Creator: Jeffrey Beall Date: 2011
Beefy's Burgers, 2014
Beefy's Burgers, 2014 The building returned to its roots as a burger diner in 2012, reopening as Beefy's Burgers. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014

Location

1300 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Landrum's Diner,” Reno Historical, accessed June 17, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/49.