All American Hamburger Drive-In, located at 4286 Merrick Road in Massapequa, New York, is stuck in time.
Not much has changed at the iconic Long Island establishment since its inception in 1963, as its original metal framework is still intact. The same family -- the Vultaggios -- has owned and operated All American since the day it opened. The topper of it all is that food prices haven't gone up in decades, even as the cost of dairy items steadily rose just about everywhere else in New York.
On the first day of 2013, when the Smashburger down the block from All American was selling burgers on artisan buns with fancy add-ons like applewood smoked bacon and tzatziki sauce for $8, 1960s-style cheeseburgers from All American were still being sold for just $1.40.
Fast Food Nostalgia
Long before the days of fast food super-sizing, before Happy Meals and McDonald's Egg McMuffins, before it became hip to fancy up a hamburger with veggies, All American was serving up burgers without any extra fancy flair.
Burgers at All American are served in classic American style, with pickles, ketchup, diced onions, and beef on a white bun. The only choice is cheese or no cheese, and veggies are nowhere to be found. The focus is on freshness and meat quality, not fancy toppings.
The production at All American is not automated, as it is at many popular burger chains currently in operation. A human flips your burger, not a computer-controlled machine.
"They serve food pretty fast, and it's fun to sit outside with friends to enjoy a bite after spending the day at the beach," Glen Cove, New York, resident Stephanie Herbert said.
Original Signage Still Intact
All American's structure bears all the hallmarks of 1960s fast food joints, when folks wouldn't come close to entertaining the thought of ordering a salad at a burger place. The burger joint evokes the memory of a lost era, a happier time when you could drink a chocolate shake and eat a burger without counting calories or watching your waistline.
All American's large glass windows, tapered sides, metal framework, and old-school signage are a true throwback to the way most fast food establishments operated 50 years ago.
Chains like Sonic and Johnny Rockets have been sprouting up lately, trying to imitate the same nostalgic 1960s feel, but Long Island residents say there's no comparison to the real thing.
"It's a throwback, so that's nice," Sea Cliff, New York, resident Matt Emmerich said of All American. "Good food and great for nostalgia."
Eric Holden, a lifelong Long Island resident, has been frequenting All American since childhood. He enjoys their chocolate milkshakes. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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