The Arnold's Hamburgers neon sign frames the quintessential diner meal: a double cheeseburger, onion rings and chocolate shake. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
I have grandkids who never have seen an episode of "Happy Days," so they don't know about Richie, Joanie, Potsie, The Fonz or Arnold's Drive-In.
That means Arnold's Hamburgers, a fixture in west Tulsa for the past 25 years, has, for many, outlived the memory of the fictional eatery on which it was loosely based.
Like the TV sitcom, Arnold's Hamburgers has a 1950s setting, with red and blue neon reflecting off a glass-block order counter, gray-and-purple booths, metal cafe chairs and prints of Elvis, Lucy and James Dean on the walls.
Music from that era - I heard the Fleetwoods, Ricky Nelson and Dion, among others, when I was there - is pumped through the speakers of an otherwise nonworking 1953 Wurlitzer Hi-Fi Stereo jukebox.
Conveniently, Arnold's also reflects the name of the owners, Vicki and Frank Arnold.
"People who ate here as children are bringing their own children, and they come from all over," Frank Arnold said.
"Like a lot of businesses, we've been down a little, but we're still kickin'. We still serve 500 to 600 hamburgers a day."
We were part of that number on a recent evening when we ordered a regular double with all the trimmings - mustard, onion, lettuce and tomatoes - and a double cheeseburger with everything except onions.
The burgers had a good, old-fashioned flavor, and the seasonings cooked into the ground beef were pretty salty, which made a large - and I mean large - cherry limeade ($1.55) taste like a slice of heaven.
Onion rings ($2.09) were medium-sized and crunchy, and if you don't bite all the way through, the onion will slide out of the ring. Fries were ordinary.
A plus for Arnold's are the shakes and malts ($2.09 small, $2.29 large) in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana and cherry. We had vanilla and chocolate malts, and both were wonderful.
Diners don't have many decisions to make at Arnold's, which I count as another plus. You have hamburgers - singles, doubles, triples, one cheese, two cheese - from $2.79 to $5.59, along with a grilled chicken sandwich ($3.79), fried chicken sandwich ($3.79), chicken club sandwich ($4.22) and a boneless chicken basket ($4.89).
"The boneless chicken is something we added to the menu, and it's good," Arnold said. "We get it from the same people who used to supply the old Rex's Chicken."
In addition to shakes, malts, cherry limeade and standard soft drinks, Arnold's also serves root beer in a frosted mug, another tempting beverage choice.
A junior burger for the younger ones is $1.40, with cheese $1.50.
Throw in fries and onions rings, and that's the entire menu.
The Arnolds also operate the Frank Arnold Ministries and organize and stage gospel concerts in a nine-state area.
Frank Arnold got his start in the restaurant business working at Carl's Coney Island in the Crystal City Shopping Center when he was a student at Webster High School.
When he was 21, he bought a coney place in Catoosa and ran it for five years. He was out of the business for three years before returning to west Tulsa and opening Arnold's Hamburgers.
"This is home for me," he said.
1722 W. 51st St.
Service: Counter service
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday;
accepts Visa, MasterCard.
Only active print or digital subscribers of the Tulsa World are allowed to post comments on stories posted to Tulsaworld.com. After you fill out the form below and click submit, your comment will be published instantly online along with your screen name.
By clicking "Submit" you are agreeing to our terms and conditions.