Chipper Pastron, the new (and also a previous) owner of Old Pasadena’s stalwart Jake’s Burgers, has only ever known restaurant kitchens throughout his career, from the moment he decided, many many decades ago, that he didn’t want to be a bus boy anymore.
From his 20s through his 30s, he worked in just about every kind of restaurant there is, and by 1987, he was managing the legendary Gladstone’s at the Beach with a running buddy. And he was ready for something new.
Longtime Pasadena residents will be jarred by his next memory, as he recalled Friday, “We opened a little place out here in Pasadena called Rose City Diner on Fair Oaks Avenue. One year later, almost to the day we opened Market City Caffe in 1988.”
Those two establishments evolved into landmarks in Old Pasadena’s journey from run-down forgotten neighborhood to the sparkling and dynamic retail and dining destination it is today.
Pastron and his partners acquired the historic 1947-era Jake’s property at the northern end of Mills Alley in Old Pasadena in 1989, and refurbished the building to honor the original site, complete with the pool hall downstairs.
“We ran Jake’s for about seven, eight years, and then we actually sold the business and the group that bought it, ran it for almost 40 years. And then things happened,” he said discreetly, “and then that went away.”
In 2015, then-owner Greg Stevens, discouraged by rising rents in the quickly revitalizing Old Pasadena area, threw in the towel and sold out, ending 68 years of there being a Jake’s Burgers in Old Pasadena.
So now it’s Jake’s Trustworthy Burgers and Beer, supported handily by Pastron’s four-year-old, Burbank-based Trustworthy Brewing Company.
Pastron actually re-purchased the property some four years ago, and was ready to re-open in March of 2020. Enter something called the COVID-19 Pandemic, which shut down most of the planet for about a year.
“Before me,” said Pastron, “someone else came in and tried a different go with it, and that didn’t work out. And so I decided to do it again myself.”
Today, Pastron has returned to the restaurant’s roots, serving its classic 1947 burger—two Angus beef patties with two slices of cheddar cheese and in-house pickles.
‘We thought about lettuce and tomatoes, and avocado, and sprouts and all kinds of other things,” laughed Pastron, “but in the end it comes down to the simple truth and the original recipe.’
There are also hand-made french fries, fried in peanut oil, and onion rings, (debuting Friday, the day we visited), along with spicy fried chicken sandwiches, steamed hot dogs, Jones sodas, and the aforementioned craft beers.
“A simple menu, the way it should be,” said Pastron.
Pastron also has plans to repaint the burger shack to its original red, as well as repairing and replacing the original awning, to bring back what people might not remember, but will definitely appreciate.
Burger. Bun. Fries. Beer. Simple.
Jake’s Trustworthy Burgers and Beer is at 38 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA. www.jakestrustworthyburgers.com