Neal T. Baker was not an ordinary businessman – Mr. Baker was extraordinary – a visionary who established his concept to offer great food and great value to the residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. His dedicated staff – many employees have been with the company 10, 20, even 30+ years – provides the awesome customer service that has led to Baker’s celebrating over 62 years in business.
Neal T. Baker’s humble beginnings in the building trade began in 1946; his family started an adobe brickyard where they built and sold heavy earthen bricks to the construction industries. In time Mr. Baker established himself as an accomplished commercial and residential builder. Years later he became co-founder of the Business Bank of San Bernardino.
In 1952, in his hometown of San Bernardino, Mr. Baker opened his first modest hamburger stand on Highland Ave. Mr. Baker’s love of the business grew, and in 1953 he opened a second Baker’s location in Rialto, which still stands today. By 1955, Mr. Baker had become a standout in the industry as an innovator in creating America’s First Twin Kitchen® operation – an offering of both American and Mexican entrées – a concept that quickly caught on with the evolving Inland Empire customers. Guests can opt for the American Kitchen and order a cheeseburger, fries, or a chicken sandwich, or get a taco, burrito, or chips and homemade salsa from the Mexican Kitchen. Both kitchens also serve breakfast meals, including hash browns, egg sandwiches, egg burritos, and egg soft tacos.
The Baker’s Drive-Thru® founder whipped up a real treat in 1987 when he introduced Hand-Dipped Real Ice Cream Milkshakes. They are still available today in the traditional flavors, as well as Oreo, Butterfinger, and Snickers specialty flavors. The concept of “Great Food, Close to Home®” also includes the offering of all hot menu items such as old fashioned hamburgers, french fries, tacos, and a breakfast menu featuring chorizo, eggs, machaca, and 100% beef sausages. Not only can Baker’s serve up great breakfast food – but can serve it with favorite beverages such as 100% Colombian Coffee, Cappuccino, Chocolate Abuelita, Mokalita, or Cinnamon Coffee. To add zest to their menu additions, the chain created Habanero Ketchup, a spicy-hot condiment and a great complement to Baker’s long-time favorites, “Curl Your Tongue” and original hot sauces.
In 1995 Mr. Baker added a third “kitchen” to the winning Baker’s mix. Acknowledging the special character of the Loma Linda community with the predominance of Seventh Day Adventists, who are largely vegetarian, he introduced an array of non-meat selections, including the Boca Burger – calling it the Loma Linda Kitchen menu, as at the time it was only available at the Loma Linda location. The special menu is now available at twenty-one Baker’s locations and is called simply, “The Vegetarian Kitchen.”
Mr. Baker believed in serving his community, while expanding his concept and making a difference for the appreciative patrons of Baker’s Drive-Thru. For years, Baker’s has participated in many philanthropic causes, including raising well over 3 million dollars for the Easter Seal Society of Southern California, the favorite charity of its founder, with its annual Safe Halloween Coupon Book campaign. Baker’s has also been supportive of Children’s Fund and many athletic
organizations, from the Dave Stockton Coyote Classic to many local high school athletic programs. Baker’s also supports the University of Redlands, California State University, San Bernardino and the University of California, Riverside as well as the “Run through Redlands,” and the “Fontana Days’ Run.” In 2006 Mr. Baker, who lived in Muscoy as a boy, donated a parcel of land he owned in the unincorporated part of San Bernardino known as Muscoy to the County of San Bernardino with the instruction that it must be used to benefit the community. In May 2013, the Baker Family Learning Center officially opened as part of the SB County Library System. The center is home to a public library and a pre-school. It is the first public service project in the community of Muscoy and we couldn’t be more proud that Mr. Baker’s legacy will live on in the community he grew up in and loved.
As time has passed and technology has advanced, Baker’s has also evolved. Baker’s Drive-Thru created its first website www.bakersdrivethru.com in 1995 which offered special coupons available only to online visitors. Baker’s online and social presence has continued to evolve where faithful followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter eagerly await each day’s Deal of the Day coupon post for amazing deals.
Many chains got their start in Southern California, while countless others have gone the way of the dinosaur. Baker’s Drive-Thru, however, has stood the test of time by constantly keeping up with the ever-changing tastes of their customers. Established in 1952, Mr. Neal T. Baker’s local empire has grown to 38 restaurants, Victorville to the North, Corona to the South, Beaumont to the East and Upland to the West – to all points in-between! In that time, Baker’s has earned the title of “Best Fast Food” in San Bernardino County as voted upon by readers of the San Bernardino Sun.
Mr. Baker’s legacy continues with his beloved wife, Carol Baker, at Baker’s helm and she is poised to leave a lasting legacy in the Inland Empire for another 60 years.