Port Edward and Prince Rupert are about to lose a much-loved local institution soon. Brad’s Drive-Thru is going to closing the nearly 50-year-old fast-food restaurant for good at the end of next month so that the owner, Phillip Wong, can have a much-deserved retirement.
Brad’s was originally founded in the 1960’s by Gordon Bradbury – known to most as “Brad” – who had come to Prince Rupert during his navy days before falling in love with the city and decided to stay. Brad had run a few restaurants when he lived in Vancouver and decided to open one in up here as well.
The original Brad’s Drive-Thru was actually a small trailer parked at Rainbow Lake selling hamburgers to the workers who were building the highway at the time. Maybe it was the food or the lack of competition at the time, but according to Brad’s son, also named Gordon Bradbury, his father’s business was popular pretty much as soon as it started.
“The hours were outrageous. Originally, they were open until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. It was ridiculous,” says Bradbury.
After the road construction was finished the restaurant changed places a few times including moving into the industrial site before Brad built it’s current location in Port Edward in 1967. Bradbury, who was barely a teenager at the time says that his father may have been forced outside of Prince Rupert because of some conflict with the “City Fathers”, but says that it could have just been a rumour going around town at the time.
“So we ended up out in Port Ed because it wasn’t incorporated or anything back then,” says Bradbury.
Kicked out of town or not, Brad’s Drive-Thru was positioned right across the road from the pulp mill, the little burger joint became a popular lunch spot with the mill and cannery workers in Port Ed.
While the restaurant is essentially a two-person operation now, Bradbury says that it used to be a popular place for teenagers to get a summer job. Bradbury himself opened his own burger truck to go along with the business which lasted until Prince Rupert hit the slump that it is only now starting to crawl back out of.
The Wongs have owned Brad’s since 1979 when Bradbury’s mother sold the business to them after his father died. The restaurant has remained popular destination for locals even after the cannery and pulp mill jobs disappeared from Port Edward.
One customer said that he and his wife had been coming to Brad’s regularly since the 1970’s.
Prince Rupert may be getting an A&W but it won’t be another Brad’s.