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Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Machine guns and burgers
Many months ago, "Cup o' Noodles" and I hit the "Bomber Complex" over on SE McLoughlin. I've driven past the place a million times and, during a mission to track down Milwuakie's Statue of Liberty tribute, we stopped for lunch.
As the story goes, a local entrepreneur named Art Lacey bought the bomber for cheap in the late '40s and flew it cross country with a mannequin as his co-pilot (in order to sneak around aviation regulations). He used the bomber to drum up business at his eastside gas station. It worked and eventually Lacey opened a restaurant nearby.
When we visited, the bomber itself, which once used to sit over the pumps, was missing its cockpit. According to a sign it had been removed and was in the middle of a restoration. Pigeons had taken up residence in the belly of the plane. If memory serves, at one point the pumps were replaced with picnic tables. I wouldn't if the new residents had anything to do with what's under the plane now: nothin' but pavement.
What appeared to be a museum was shuttered next to a vacant park. Undaunted, we gave the actual restaurant a shot and it made the whole stop worthwhile. The place looked like it had been recently renovated and is probably the only place anywhere were you can gorge yourself on diner food while sitting next to this:
It's a WW2-era machine gun.
Another booth had a torpedo.
It's as if the place was drafted by General Patton himself. Similar bits of history line the walls and a USO Betty Boop mural greets diners as they head for the bathroom. The Bomber Restaurant reminded me of The Cockpit, a long-gone apparel store that once sold flight jackets and watches underneath a restored fighter jet in a triangle-shaped building in downtown Seattle. I'm probably the only person on the fact of the planet that remembers that place. It closed in the late-90s to make way for a Mariners team shop.
I ordered the Bomber Burger. Eight bucks bought me a half-pound patty, several strips of bacon, tons of fixings, possibly a fried egg and the secret ingredient: peanut butter.
Anyone who can consume the entire thing wins a prize but I only managed to make it half-way. It's probably for the best. "The prize" is probably a trip in an ambulance to the OHSU emergency room.
Here's hoping the Bomber continues to cause coronaries for years to come. Yeah, that came out wrong but you get the idea.