Twoheys puts a new spin on a classic tradition
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

With the tagline of “Making memories since 1943,” Twoheys has added a touch of fun to an already-miserable 2021.

The South Pasadena eatery has resurrected carhops, the rollerskating outdoor servers who were popular at the legendary restaurant from the 1950s to the mid-1970s.

“A lot of loyal patrons who are elderly remember the carhop back in the day,” said Tanya Christos, one of the co-owners. “During this time of unprecedented way of doing business, we had to come up with ways of not only just pivoting the business but coming up with creative and interesting marketing ideas.”

General Manager Bill Hamel asked about reintroducing the carhop and found the original carhop trays online.

“We are proud to reintroduce the carhop dining concept that was introduced by the Twohey family decades ago,” Christos said. “We believe that bringing back this tradition allows diners to visit more often, while enjoying our old-time favorite/new menu items and practicing safety protocols from the safe haven of their own cars.”

To coincide with the carhop service, the restaurant’s executive chefs, Gerardo Talamantes Sr. and Enrique Elias, created three menus that reflect classic American fare from the original menu and the new items:

• Breakfast to go: classic buttermilk or old-fashioned pancakes, French toast, Belgian malted waffle and handcrafted corned beef hash.

• Lunch to go: classic original Stink-O Burger, Twoheys’ original onion rings, Heckels prime rib dip sandwich and fish and chips.

• Dinner to go: handcrafted meatloaf, house-roasted turkey dinner and Southern fried chicken.

• Cocktails to go: Meridian, Snake Trail, Seco Washout and Raymond old fashioned.

Customers can order breakfast, lunch and dinner from Twoheys’ to-go menus and reserve one of six designated parking spots by calling 626-284-7387, ext. 1, 30 minutes in advance.

Upon arrival, patrons should call the restaurant and share the reserved parking spot number. The restaurant will bring the to-go food to each car on a classic carhop tray that clips to the vehicle’s window for a contact-free dining experience. 

To add to the fun, Christos and her team created a Twoheys playlist on Spotify. When customers pull into their reserved space, they can log on to the music streaming service and hear curated tunes from the 1950s to 1970s.

“We’re trying to do what we can to hang in there, just as all small businesses are,” Christos said.

The neighborhood restaurant is known for its soda fountain, which serves Twoheys award-winning bittersweet, milk chocolate and caramel sundaes. The well-known eatery has added a new twist on the American diner experience with seven hand-crafted specialty cocktails, such as its signature cocktail, the Stink-o-Tini.

A family affair

The award-winning Twoheys Restaurant opened Oct. 10 in South Pasadena. Twoheys launched in 1943 when owner Jack Twohey opened his first restaurant on Arroyo Boulevard in Pasadena. 

At that time, the restaurant had 37 seats and quickly became known as the premier hamburger place. The Little Stink-O, clothes pin and tear drop logo was trademarked by Twohey in 1943. It originated when he overheard a woman patron of the restaurant exclaim, “Oh-Stink-O,” when a gentleman next to her was served a hamburger generously garnished with onions and pickles.

Since it was founded, Twoheys has welcomed celebrities including actors Cary Grant, Mickey Rooney, Bill Murray, painter/illustrator Norman Rockwell and author/screenwriter Ray Bradbury.

Christos does her best to make guests feel like family. After all, it worked for Christos, a longtime patron. When she and her family found out the longtime owners wanted to retire, they bought the restaurant.

“We have been patrons of Twoheys for a long time,” she said.

“Growing up, my family lived close by. It was a family hangout. We went there for family meals after sporting events and birthdays. We were already involved in the restaurant business. We knew the children taken over the restaurant from their parents.

“They were getting up there in years and they asked us if we were interested in purchasing Twoheys.”

The family hadn’t been involved in a full breakfast, lunch and dinner concept. However, guests were so loyal that Christos and her family couldn’t turn it down.

“We were able to open in the middle of the crisis in October, but the response was overwhelming,” she said. “People were telling us thank you for coming back and being here for them. They wanted normalcy back in their lives. We’re really grateful for the legacy Twoheys has created.”

Recently, Christos developed family meal packs to allow individuals an ease in ordering and value. The Twoheys staff also bought back the lobster and rib feasts. They’re promoting their feasts and family meals on social media.

In addition, Twoheys Restaurant offers its food truck with a choice of three menu packages or a custom menu from any of Twoheys’ favorite menu items. As part of the package, Twoheys provides a state-of-the-art sound system offering music for those who wish to hold socially responsible distanced events.

In South Pasadena, the new 5,200-square-foot restaurant’s interior was designed by Zoumas Design of South Pasadena and constructed by Peter Koulos Construction. It brings together classic elements in a contemporary design, combining the nostalgia of a diner with a lunch counter and old-time soda fountain in a refined, open and bright space.

The original Stink-o logo and signage has been updated for the 21st century with a youthful and whimsical design.

“We didn’t do any advertising when we opened our doors,” Christos said. “We just wanted it to be organic. We wanted to get our feet wet and to understand this environment.

“We had an overwhelming response and we’re grateful for that. We were open about two months before we had to close down again. We still haven’t opened our dining room yet. We did have to expand our patios. We have two patios that we had to expand to incorporate additional seating. For the most part, people love the outdoor seating. It’s definitely here to say.” n

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