Cruisin’ Yaw’s



Mitch Mayfield

Yaw's Top Notch Restaurant had experienced many changes from it's opening on July 24th, 1926 to the time it closed in 1982. W.P. and Grace Yaw started the business at 1819 NE 41st Avenue where they had 14 stools. In 1936 Yaw's moved to 1901 NE 42nd Avenue to accommodate it's growing number of customers. In 1941 a drive-in was added with service for 44 cars and take out service started in 1952. Yaw's just kept growing and in 1955 it moved to 2001 NE 40th Avenue and occupied the entire block. Inside there was a winding counter that had seating for 95 and tables that accommodated another 45.

At the peak of Yaw's operation it employed 180 people. The Yaw family was known for treating their employees well and paying a fair wage. Treating them well meant providing the night shift employees with a bus that made sure they got home safely. Some of the most well known employees were the off duty officers that helped to keep the cruisers out of trouble. If you cruised Yaw's in the late 50s and 60s you would remember Bob Svilar, the "tootsie roll cop", and his pocket full of tootsie rolls that he distributed freely.

W.P. Yaw was also an innovator in many areas. In collaboration with E. E. Franz of Franz Bakery, Mr. Yaw invented the five-inch diameter hamburger bun in the late 1920s. He has also been credited with the invention of the "thick" milkshake. Perhaps his most appreciated and best known invention was a large broiler that broiled hamburger patties on both sides at the same time. Yaw's was known for it's delicious burger that was the result of the broiler and toasted bun, which was a Yaw's original.

Food like the burgers, gravy fries, and berry tarts made Yaw's a real hot spot. With Grant High School nearby it was quick to become a favorite hangout for the youth. It became the place to cruise in the 50s and 60s.

Yaw's has always been known as the place to catch your friends. Tim Schnell, of Schnell Automotive, remembers going there with his friends so they could say their good-byes before shipping off to Vietnam. He also remembers that those lucky enough to make it home quickly headed to Yaw's to catch up and find comfort in all the familiar faces. Cruising and socializing was a large part of young life and Yaw's was at the center of it.


  • Postcard courtesy of Georganne Barr
  • Photo of W.P. Yaw Jr. owner of Yaw’s Top Notch courtesy of Georganne Barr
  • Photo of off duty officer working at Yaw’s courtesy of Georganne Barr

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