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. The strong company he built (many employees have been with the company 10, 20, even 30+ years), continues to provide the awesome customer service that has led to Baker’s celebrating over 65 years in business.
In 1952, in his hometown of San Bernardino, Mr. Baker opened his first modest hamburger stand on Highland Avenue. 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.
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 a largely vegetarian population, he introduced an array of non-meat selections. He called 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 21 Baker’s locations.
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 Easterseals 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, many high school athletic programs and they support many local universities. In 2006, Mr. Baker donated a parcel of land he owned in the unincorporated area of Muscoy, in San Bernardino where he lived as a boy. It was given 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.
Mr. Baker and his beloved wife Carol have left a long lasting mark on the Inland Empire. Their legacy of community service and community love will continue to shine for many years to come.