There are few businesses in Birmingham that offer more of an ideal location for viewing the Woodward Dream Cruise Activities as Hunter House Hamburgers.
So this year the legendary hamburger diner, a 59-year standby in Birmingham, is offering customers and cruise enthusiasts an array of themed events and activities during the week leading up to the Woodward Dream Cruise, said owner Susan Cobb.
“Cruising and vintage cars are the soul and spirit of our little classic diner,” Cobb said.
Hunter House, the burger joint that began feeding the original cruisers way back in 1952, has transformed its Birmingham parking lot into a public party site this week. There are two tents, 14 round tables, four stand-up tables, curbside seating, a music stage, six portable toilets and — thoughtfully — two hand sinks and an outside ATM.
Outside grilling alongside Woodward started around 4 p.m. Monday and continues through Saturday night. Live music kicks off Wednesday evening.
Unlike some years, the popular stop isn't rented for VIP events Friday night or Saturday. "I prefer to give back to my customers and let anyone come," Cobb said, who was polishing cooking trailer counters Monday afternoon. "It's the week we wait for all year."
She has staffed up for as many as 30,000 customers. Expanded hours start Wednesday, when the small diner-style restaurant opens from 8 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on patronage.
Cobb, daughter of retired owner Al Papazian, cruises on natural adrenaline through days that can exceed 18 hours and include floor naps. "He'll be here," she says of her 85-year-old dad. "He loves it."
“The Dream Cruise is a wonderful event that takes us back in time to a time when life was simple and kids played kickball in the street,” Cobb said. “(Back then) a fun night out was a drive-in movie and an ice cream and the music (that was played) left you feeling happy and silly and romantic. Who doesn't want to take that trip down memory lane?”
Cobb said she plans for the Cruise all year long.
“I will begin planning (for next year’s event) the day after the Dream Cruise ends this year, and then we all look forward to it all year long.,” Cobb said. “It is so much work and so much preparation, but such a labor of love. It’s truly the highlight of our year, and personally, I wish it was more than just once a year.”
Here's what customers and cruisers can find at Hunter House this week:
- Wednesday, 6–10 p.m.: Toppermost Beatles Tribute Band, which played Aug. 3 in Shain Park as part of the city's free weekly summer series.
- Thursday, 6-10 p.m.: Trilogy, a six-piece Motown and classic rock band from Lincoln Park.
- Thursday, 5 p.m.-close: (During band breaks) Fred "Boogie" Brian of WOMC.
- Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Legend, The Band -- a '50s-'70s group.
- Friday, 6-10 p.m.: Toppermost returns. (The band also plays alongside Woodward on Saturday in Ferndale from 7-9 p.m.)
- Friday, 10 p.m.-close: WOMC DJ.
- Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. : Elvis tribute singer Fred Wolfe of Westland.
- Saturday, 1-4 p.m.: Classic Beat, '50s-60s rockers.
- Saturday, 10 a.m.-close: (Filling breaks) WOMC DJ.