Iconic Modesto Restaurant to close after 66 years
Johnny Matthews, owner of the beloved Modesto A&W restaurant, never imagined he would close his doors under these circumstances. The historic drive-in burger joint, located at G and 14th streets, will cease operations on November 22 after 66 years of continuous service.
Contrary to expectations, inflation, staffing shortages, or declining customer interest were not the factors that led to the closure. Instead, the decision stems from an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit filed against the property last month.
The A&W restaurant, a Modesto landmark since its inception as a food stand in 1957, has become synonymous with its big burgers, roller-skating carhops, and nostalgic American Graffiti ambiance. It continues to attract a loyal clientele and hosts popular Friday night cruise-ins, complete with Elvis impersonators, throughout the summer.
Matthews, who owns the building and business with his wife, Tammy, had already planned to retire and sell both this year. Their hope was to continue operating the restaurant until the sale was finalized. However, the ADA lawsuit has forced them to reconsider their plans.
Lee Dozier, an 81-year-old Modesto resident, is the plaintiff in the A&W lawsuit. Over the past 13 months, he has filed 15 ADA lawsuits against property owners in Stanislaus County, all using the same Newport Beach-based law firm. In addition to the Matthewses and their A&W restaurant, Dozier has targeted building owners of national and local businesses in Modesto, primarily alleging inaccessible or inadequate disabled parking access, along with other violations.