Orinda Nation’s Restaurant Moving to Spacious, Updated Location

(Andrea Madison, Photographer)
Nation’s Giant Hamburgers’ construction team is underway to move across the street from its current location to 65 Moraga Way, which was once Taverna Pellegrini. Nation’s has occupied 76 Moraga Way since 1978.

    Construction is underway on Nation’s Giant Hamburgers’ new Orinda location, just across the street from its current address at 76 Moraga Way, which it has occupied since 1978.
    The project – in the works for over a year – will refresh the vacant space at 65 Moraga Way that has stood empty since the closure of Italian eatery Taverna Pellegrini. The building was built in 1947 and is a mixed-use, two-story structure. The plan was eligible for community and planning commission review.
    “It’s going to be significantly larger,” said project architect Michael Hannah. Sole director of mihmic architecture inc. [lower case part of company branding], Hannah noted that the tower sign on the façade of the building, shown in the recently approved design, is “a nod to the Orinda Theatre sign.”
    The new signage, with subdued LED lighting and vertical lettering on a translucent background, will face the Moraga Way sidewalk and Northwood Drive and rise four feet higher than the building parapet, an exception to the Orinda sign code that was approved, and one that will help to “bookend and celebrate” the surrounding area, said Hannah.
    Nation’s Vice President of Business Development, Patrick Marasco, said the tower sign’s design is “consistent with our desire to enhance the building.”
    Several Nation’s customers called into the recent public meeting to voice their support for the proposed project said Hannah. “The community was always shown every angle I could possibly give,” he said, referring to his 3D imagery of the building’s exterior design.
    The yearlong project will also include a renovation of adjacent tenant Peet’s Coffee & Tea’s façade. The existing columns on the exterior of the building will be removed and a new treatment featuring vertical aluminum slats with a natural wood grain finish will be installed.
    While originally these updates were planned for the Nation’s side of the building and the second story above, the community review process and encouragement from the city led to a collaboration with Peet’s that will see the coffee shop’s exterior receiving a fresh look as well.
    “We are delighted that Peet’s Coffee was so willing to work with us,” said Hannah.
    An interior tenant improvement permit was submitted for the restaurant itself, as advised by mihmic architecture, to expedite the eatery’s move into its new home.
    “We’re really excited to update a building that’s ready to be improved,” Marasco said Aug. 3, noting the new Nation’s location will also increase the restaurant’s kitchen grill space from five feet to nine feet in total.
    The square footage of the establishment, 1,267 feet at its current spot, will be increased to 2,564 feet after the relocation. A tenant has been finalized for the restaurant’s former location, Marasco said.
    The Nation’s Giant Hamburgers story began in 1952, with founder Russ Harvey opening a hot dog stand in San Pablo, CA, according to the chain’s website. Harvey found success after adding extra-large burgers to the restaurant’s menu.
    Future president of Nation’s Foodservice Inc., Dale Power, a neighbor of Harvey’s in Richmond, began his career with the fledgling restaurant chain in 1960. Power worked for 10 years as a maintenance person, janitor and manager until purchasing an unnamed Oakland restaurant in 1970 and suggesting to Harvey the building of a “little chain” of burger restaurants. The duo dubbed the chain “Nation’s,” and the Oakland location was the first to display the restaurant’s new name.
    Following Harvey’s retirement in 1994, Power was president of the burger chain until 2015, when he became Nation’s chairman of the board. Power’s son Grant took over the position and serves as the current president of the restaurant chain.
    The new restaurant location opens for business this fall, with the exterior improvements expected to be permitted in late 2022 and construction to begin early next year.
    “With this investment further into Orinda after 50 years at a smaller location, Nation’s has committed itself to the future of the city,” said Hannah.
    “[We are] pushing hard to open the facility,” added Marasco. “Our hope is to deliver a first-class Nation’s for the community. [We are] also excited to extend that to the building overall.”

Andrea Madison can be reached at drea.madison.05@gmail.com.

(Patrick Marasco, Photographer)
(L-R) Marcy Kerchal, Nation’s Senior Interior Designer; Brad Ingham, Nation’s Maintenance Dept. Manager; Brooke Cutter, Miller Pacific, Inc. Project Superintendent; Michael Mendoza, Miller Pacific, Inc. Project Superintendent; and Jennifer Toledo, Nation’s Facilities Project Manager at the Nation’s Giant Hamburgers’ construction site at 65 Moraga Way. The restaurant’s new and larger home will feature a larger dine-in seating area and a vertical tower sign echoing the Orinda Theatre’s 1940s landmark art deco-style signage.


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