George Eckley has owned the Bucket in Eagle Rock for the last five years, but recently made the tough decision to close the business.
News of The Bucket's demise hit Eagle Rockers and L.A. burger lovers hard. Since Eagle Rock Patch broke the news on Wednesday, thousands of people have read our story about the closure, dozens have commented on it and our Facebook page, and other media outlets like the L.A. Weekly and Eater LA have run stories about the closure.
Reader Cricket Fox, commenting on Facebook, may have summed up many Eagle Rockers' feelings about the news best: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
To learn more about why The Bucket closed, and about the lawsuit that led to its closure, click here.
Eckley, who grew up in Highland Park and was a longtime customer of The Bucket before buying it, said he wanted his customers and Eagle Rockers to know he tried his best to keep the business alive.
"Thank you for all the people throughout the years. I’m truly sorry. You guys are the lifeblood of The Bucket," Eckley said. "I do want my customers to know that I really did appreciate every story and conversation I had."
A frequent topic of stories was The Bucket's first owner, a man named Julio, who by all accounts was a cigar-chomping, cantankerous fellow.
"He was like the Soup Nazi. If you asked for a cheeseburger and he gave you grilled cheese and you didn’t like it, he’d tell you where you could take it," Eckley said. "There was some crazy stories about him. But that was the whole character of the place."
Many Patch readers have left comments on the site about Julio.
Reader WU TANG FAN wrote: "I remember going there when Julio was the owner. The Cottage Fries with garlic sauce on top-have never tasted anything quite as good since! Sad to see it close but once Julio retired, the place was never the same. Miss the cranky old guy who would have a fit if you ordered a burger without tomato, onion, etc."
According to the L.A. Weekly, President Obama is rumored to have been a regular at The Bucket when he attended Occidental College.
With a 78-year history, some of the details of The Bucket's long life are unclear. Eckley said he thought Julio was the original owner, and that it was an ice cream parlor back in the day before it became a burger joint. Eckley did not know Julio's last name, or how long he owned the place.
Since Julio retired, it had a lot of different owners before Eckley took it over five years ago. Eckley said he had been in the real estate business and had never owned a restaurant before The Bucket.
"The part that I enjoyed was the customers coming in and hearing their stories," Eckley said. "I had a lot of Oxy alumni come every year around the beginning of the semester, parents bringing their kids who are starting off. And they stopped there and brought them to get a Bucket burger."
The L.A. Weekly commented that The Bucket's burgers are so beloved, it could succeed in a new building.
"If The Bucket ever returns, some day, somewhere, expect burger lovers and bikers to form a line out the door," the article said.
But Eckley said he is unsure if he will reopen The Bucket somewhere else, or if he will ever run a restaurant again.
"I’m just going to keep it and put it down as another chapter in my life. I did a decent job at it and would just like to put a menu on the wall framed and look at it as something I did at a point in my life," Eckley said. "As far as opening somewhere else, I don’t know. You don’t have the history. You have a great burger, but there are many great burgers. It was locals keeping the place going."