Ask me: Triangle drive-in named for triangle-shaped parcel

The Fresno BeeJanuary 25, 2014 

Question: I have memories of eating at the Triangle drive-in when my family moved to Fresno in the mid-1960s. My husband and I recently ate there and it brought back fond memories. Who owned the drive-in back then?

— Dale Huffman, Fresno

Answer:

Clyde Hunsaker opened the Triangle drive-in in May 1963 on a triangular parcel of land at 1310 W. Belmont Ave. and Parkway Avenue, just west of Highway 99.

The Triangle has specialized in typical drive-in fare: hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and milkshakes. Today the menu also includes sandwiches, Mexican food and appetizers. In the early days, the ice cream and milkshake mix were supplied by Mello Ice Cream at Butler Avenue and Orange Street.

Fresno city directories show that Hunsaker owned the Triangle until 1971 and that Burke Girlione owned it from 1972 to 1982.

Current owner and manager Zahi Saleh said the Triangle has been a family-owned business since 2005. The drive-in celebrated its 50th anniversary last year with a show of classic automobiles from the 1950s and '60s, Saleh said.

"It's a piece of Fresno," Saleh said. "It's gotten to be like a tradition. We have people who have come here generation after generation."

There are picnic tables outside. The inside dining area is decorated with Coca-Cola memorabilia.

On a recent afternoon, Sheila Davison of Kingsburg ate a hamburger for lunch in the dining area. The Triangle was a favorite lunch spot for her in the 1990s before she moved to the Bay Area.

"Here I am again," said Davison, who recently returned to the Valley. "It's the atmosphere. You run into people you know and the food's real good." A second Triangle drive-in recently opened on Barstow Avenue near First Street.

Q: I worked at the Regal service station on Broadway from 1957 to 1959. Back then Broadway was Highway 99 through Fresno before the new highway opened. The station was one block from Stan's Drive-In. When did the station and the drive-in close, and when did Stan's Private Line end?

— Gary Sedgwick, Lemoore

A:

The Regal Petroleum Corp. of San Jose opened the station at 1808 Broadway in June 1951, according to a Fresno Bee story.

The station took up two lots and had 12 gasoline pumps. Harry Dennis of Salinas managed the station, which had nine employees.

According to a later Bee story, Richard Strong was the manager in 1961, the year the Regal company closed the station. In June 1961 an armed gunman drove to the station in a stolen car and robbed Strong of $3,969, the Bee reported.

The station was apparently purchased by the Norwalk company in 1962, when it was managed by Strong and Dennis, according to Fresno city directories.

The station was owned by Norwalk until 1966, when city directories list the address as vacant.

Stan's Drive-In opened on the corner of Broadway and Sacramento Street in April 1950 and was a popular hangout for teens until it was torn down in 1961 to make way for street construction. The drive-in was named for owner Stanley Burke of Sacramento.

Stan's had parking for 100 cars, seating for 90 and employed about a dozen carhops on busy nights, according to a Bee story.

Stan's Private Line was a request program that aired on KMJ (AM 580) from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly. The program was sponsored by Burke and apparently ended when the drive-in closed, according to a 1976 Woody Laughnan column in The Bee.

Q: Years ago I found a playbill for a 1908 performance of Italian singer Enrico Caruso in the attic of my late father's garage. I believe my father's brother found the playbill in a Fresno theater and have always wondered if Caruso ever performed in Fresno.

— Jean Lane, Fresno

A:

Famed Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso performed in San Francisco in 1905 and 1906, but apparently did not make any appearances in Fresno, according to Aldo Mancusi, founder and curator of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America in New York.

Caruso's April 1906 performance in San Francisco coincided with the earthquake and fire that nearly leveled the city by the bay. Caruso later famously remarked, "I'll take Vesuvius!" — referring to the eruption that leveled Pompeii in 79 AD — over an earthquake.

Caruso and other members of the Metropolitan Opera Co. had performed "Carmen" at the Mission Opera House the night before.

The next morning they escaped from the Palace Hotel, which initially survived the earthquake but collapsed later that day.

Caruso died in 1921 at age 48.

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to askpaulalloyd@yahoo.com or by mail to Paula Lloyd, c/o The Fresno Bee Newsroom, 1626 E St., Fresno CA 93786. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number.

 

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