“I’m the only person I know who followed my dog’s nose to a burger and ended up with a restaurant,” says Greg Glover with a laugh.
That’s the short version of how Portland’s longtime KNRK 94.7 radio host became the proud co-owner of the Custard King in Astoria. He and Laughing Planet owner Franz Spielvogel plan to rehab and reopen the dilapidated ‘50s era ice cream and burger joint early next month, complete with sweet potato fries, rock tunes, and legit frozen custard included.
Although Glover’s day job keeps him in Portland on weekdays, the radio vet has been spending his weekends in Astoria for years, gradually becoming an honorary local. In 2012, he and his now-wife Alana Jevert-Glover opened a weekends-only shop, Commercial Astoria, with vintage clothes and Portland-y goods up front and a tiny, vinyl-only record shop in back. “A drive to Astoria lasts as long as Steely Dan’s Aja followed by the Beatles’ Revolver,” he explains. “It’s unlike anywhere else on the coast; a real city—but light years away from Portland. It’s just beautiful.”
Astoria has been seeing a bit of a food and drink boom in the past year or two, with the buzzy opening of Buoy Beer Co.’s cannery-turned-taproom and chef Eric Bechard trading Portland’s Kingdom of Roosevelt for his Astoria Albatross restaurant. But Glover had no further coastal biz aspirations until he saw a "for sale" sign at the Custard King. The restaurant’s iconic, ice cream-topped neon sign has welcomed day trippers to the Oregon seaside town since 1951, but the tiny, take-out only eatery had gone downhill in the past decade. “Every weekend, I would take my dog Biscuit for a walk and we’d stop at the Custard King. I’d buy him a burger and me a burger. It was our Saturday routine,” he says. “When I saw the sign, I started to get excited. I thought, 'Let’s keep the name, let’s restore it to local landmark status.'”
In April 2015 Glover convinced his friend Spielvogel and real estate broker David Demers to partner with him on the project. The trio plan to open sometime in June, with a short menu of roadside Americana classics, from Tillamook cheddar topped burgers, fries, and tots to Tillamook ice cream floats, shakes, and housemade frozen custard — that dense, egg-rich Midwestern variant of soft serve ice cream rarely seen in the Northwest. As a nod to Portland, the menu also boasts a kale salad as well as a "Biscuit-approved" Bitty Burger, sized just right for kids or hungry dogs.
“I just want it to be fun,” says Glover, handing me a Custard King bumper sticker styled like an Iron Maiden logo while rattling off other improvements he's dreaming of: outdoor speakers, maybe an expanded patio, and a giant Elvis-inspired mural on the side of Custard King that drivers will spy as they motor down Highway 30 into Astoria. “I want it to be a place where locals hang out alongside visitors to the city.”
Eat Beat will report back as soon as Custard King has a firm Grand Opening date, so Portlanders can plan their beach trips accordingly.
1597 Commercial St