We’re talking here about a small chain called The Great American Food & Beverage Company. There were a couple of these around Los Angeles in the early seventies…one in Westwood, one in Santa Monica and maybe others. The two things I remember about them are that the portions were huge to the point of being impractical — you’d haul home about 80% of your entree and live off it for days — and that the servers would take turns performing with a small live band. Once, I ordered a hamburger and they brought me this footstool-sized mass of meat and bun surrounded by enough fries to stock a McDonald’s for a month.
But I was sans ketchup, and when I turned to ask our waiter for some, I found him up on a platform, performing what turned out to be the world’s longest version of “Rubberband Man.” I think he did about ninety choruses while I failed to flag down any other employee and my burger cooled to tepid. Finally, long after I’d given up any chance of having the hamburger the way I liked it and had begun to eat it dry, the waiter noted the omission, hopped down from stage and fetched me a bottle of Heinz while still performing “Rubberband Man.” It was one of those moments when you almost feel like you ought to tip.