L.a.'s Biking Celebs Bring a Roaring Trade to Ed and Vern's
05/15/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT
Not too many folks confuse the Rock Store with a restaurant like...well, Spago, for instance. For one thing, try finding a comfy vinyl booth—patched with electrical tape—at the fancy West Hollywood joint. Or order a $2.25 chili dog from a Spago waiter, and see how long before you're mouthing farewells.
Hidden away in the Santa Monica mountains, the Rock Store is a pit stop, grocery store and quick-eats diner for bikers roaming the back roads north of L.A. Comic Jay Leno has been eating Rock Store Biker Burgers (at $3.50) for 10 years now. Rocker Billy Idol and his Harley-Davidson are regulars, along with Eddie Van Halen, wrestler Hulk Hogan and actor Robert Blake. On Sundays, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his muscled minions from Gold's Gym might roar in, looking for lunch at their favorite stained formica table on the patio out back.
Built of red lava rock—hence its name—the former stagecoach station was a regular stop on Ed Savko's bread-delivery route when he and his wife, Veronica, bought it in 1963. It was a hangout for bikers even then (actor Steve McQueen was a regular), "and a lot of them were destructive and mean," says Ed, a onetime steelworker. "But I haven't had an incident here in 16 years. Now I'd say a good percent of my customers on Sunday are off-duty policemen."
They and the off-duty stars can belly up to Ed's $4.65 farm-style breakfast, homemade chocolate-chip cookies baked by Vern (as she is known to her friends), or a 20-year-old cooler stocked with beer. But the menu is not of the essence. "Most people come to show off their bikes and talk motorcycles," says Leno, who often shows up on his antique 1951 Vincent Black Shadow, one of 18 bikes in his personal stable. Agrees Dick Van Dyke's son, Barry, 37: "Coming here is like living in a small town."
The only worry now is whether Ed and Vern can maintain the rough-edged ambience in the face of the Rock Store's growing success. Word of the diner has been getting around lately, and some of the regulars fear that their favorite retreat could become just another roadside attraction. "Suddenly," says Van Dyke apprehensively, "everybody in show business wants a Harley."
Ed, 63, and Vern, 60, say they're not planning on changing a thing. "We don't mind all the attention," says Ed. "And we don't treat anyone different."