FoodView – Fast Eddie’s M.O.A.B Since 1952

By Chris Murphy

You can’t create authenticity and you can find loads of it at Fast Eddie’s M.O.A.B., Meal On A Bun. Flat out, this place holds the title of the longest running restaurant in the same location in Modesto, now operating in the same place since 1952. “Fast” Eddie Gibson started there in 1962 as a Roosevelt 8th grader, picking up trash, taking out the garbage and peeling potatoes right in the middle of the classic cruise era. Located on Tully Rd, MOAB saw it’s share of action as a pre and post cruise hangout now for over 67 years. The best part is, that everything tastes the same as it did then, and that’s what keeps people coming back for more, sometimes daily.

Eddie Gibson worked his way up at MOAB. Sidney and Felicia Cheatham who already had the Walking Chicken diner at 1627 Paradise Road in the 40s. In 1947 they opened a new 1st and H Street diner across from Modesto High which would become the 1st M.O.A.B. In 1952 they opened the location on Tully. They would then sell M.O.A.B to Betty and Arlin Young. In 1965 Eddie’s parents Bob and Vi McCarthy bought M.O.A.B. After a tour in Vietnam during 1969-70, Eddie returned to M.O.A.B in 1971 and attended MJC. In 1975, Eddie purchased M.O.A.B. from his parents and he has been there running the show since. His business secrets are simple, make it good, make it good all the time, be in the restaurant and know your customers.

How did M.O.A.B. get it’s name? In the 1940s, Erv Keller, of Keller’s fame, then working for Modesto Paper was trying to get the paper business of the soon to be opening new location at 1st and H. The burger was so big, that he wrapped it with the now signature 12 x 12 checkerboard paper using a toothpick to hold it together and Erv exclaimed, “this is a Meal on a Bun”. And the rest is history and the new restaurant had a name.

I asked Eddy, what is one of the highlights about owning and running a Modesto tradition like M.O.A.B. and he replied, “that people come in and say, I ordered this burger 20 years ago and it is still exactly the same”. Going out to eat is an experience, and a visit to MOAB is exactly that. The current dining room was once an outdoor patio when it was just a walk-up window flat topped drive-in diner. The walk up part hasn’t changed, but the dining room is a tour of memories and classic Modestocana. A couple of Eddie’s favorite items are the old Schwinn he restored, a soap box racer that was sponsored by City Tire and a vintage lamppost. All of these things are surrounded by photos, drawings from customers, and a variety of pictures of Eddy skydiving. It was on jump number 3213. Months later, he got his cast off on the 12th and did another jump on the 13th. He has 6666 jumps now. Which brings us to his nickname “Fast” Eddie. 40 years ago, a 7-year old girl on the way to soccer practice said “make my lunch Fast Eddie, we’re late” and it just stuck. When he started skydiving, the name was cemented and he has been the fast man ever since.

You get the idea that Fast Eddie is a character, and he is. But is all gets down to the diner, the food and the attention to detail. He is a stickler for cleanliness and quality and his longtime manager Camille Nogueira has been his right hand for over 14 years. The BFD, the Burger Fries and Drink has been a staple for decades and he puts pride and quality into every burger. Eddie is right, the burger is amazing. Sure there are a whole bunch of boutique burgers out there, but you want a burger that always tastes good, and combined with some fresh fries and a real ice cream milkshake, this is just about the best Graffiti Summer meal you can get.

But don’t stop there, they have an amazing Philly Cheesesteak and their Hot Dogs are excellent. A little known fun fact is that M.O.A.B was one of the first-ever chicken burgers, as a result of originating as the Walking Chicken. This amazing chicken burger tradition is still going today and don’t forget the deep fried zucchini.

Graffiti Summer and Graffiti night have always been a special occasion. Although MOAB is not on the cruise route, it was always a gathering place before and after cruising, with a busy parking lot into the night with decades of regular customers. It’s kind of crazy that some people I meet haven’t heard of M.O.A.B, but hopefully we can change that and it just may become on of your favorite traditions too. Today you will still see Eddie, cleaning up trash in the parking lot, making sure it’s right.

Fast Eddie’s Meal on a Bun
1228 Tully Rd
Modesto, 95350
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am to 8pm 9pm Fridays

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.