A Man, A Buick, and a Hot Dog Stand

Yes, we did say “hot dog stand.” It’s certainly an odd way to begin telling the story of a company that’s famous for hamburgers.

Surprisingly, hot dogs is actually how Nation’s Giant Hamburgers got its start back in 1952. In San Pablo, California, Russ Harvey decided to trade in his 1948 Buick for the chance to make hot dogs at a 10-foot-wide counter with six stools. It turned out to be the best move he ever made. Well, that and the decision to expand his menu beyond hot dogs, of course.

From the moment Russ added extra large, tasty hamburgers to the grill, word of mouth spread like wildfire. People loved all the toppings and the price was just right, too. So, Harvey’s Original Giant Hamburger was born and the lines at his San Pablo stand grew longer.

Nation's Story
  • our story at 1952


    In his travels, Russ would always look for a good hamburger place. “There was this one place...where they made a hamburger how I liked them. It had nice thick slices of onions in it, tomatoes and lettuce, the whole thing was pretty good.”

  • our story at 1952


    Since 1952, our patties have been made of beef that’s specifically ground for Nation’s. We still use two local butchers for ⅓ lb. hamburgers made to our specifications from meat delivered fresh three times a week.

  • our story at 1953


    Russ Harvey added a second hamburger stand and — for a brief time — a breakfast spot called “The Waffle Shop.”

    Russ Harvey and Dale Power, age 8, met as neighbors in Richmond.

  • our story at 1960


    Dale is “ready to have a car and a license.” So, he went to Russ for a job. For the next 10 years, Dale was a maintenance person, a janitor, and a manager.

  • our story at 1969


    Giant Hamburgers grew to six locations. Russ opted for partnerships over franchises.

  • our story at 1970


    Dale purchased an unnamed restaurant in Oakland, and suggested to Russ, “Why don’t we build a little chain together?” They chose to call it Nation’s, now trademarked. Oakland was first to display the new signage as Nation’s Giant Hamburgers.

  • our story at 1974


    Pies were on the menu from the beginning. When a bakery became available in Fremont, Dale brought fresh, homemade pies in-house as a daily menu item. Popular as ever, today there are 13 delicious flavors of quality pies.

  • our story at 1976


    The city of San Pablo revitalized the area at San Pablo Avenue and San Pablo Dam Road where Nation’s has had a successful location ever since.

  • our story at 1978


    Breakfast was offered for the first time at the San Pablo and Newark stores. By 1978, every store offered breakfast and most locations offer breakfast all day.

  • our story at 1980


    For many years our workers made their own uniforms. It’s great to look back and see how the styles are so representative of the times.

  • our story at 1984


    With so many stores, we needed more pies, so a second pie shop opened in El Cerrito. On a daily basis, we top nearly 800 pies.

  • our story at 1984


    As our growth continued, Nation’s built a new home office and another pie shop in El Cerrito on a site that was originally the Golden Jersey Dairy that closed in the early 1970s when a BART station was built.

  • our story at 1986


    The Power family: Dale, Danielle, Cara and Grant.

  • our story at 1988


    Since 1952, we have had our produce delivered to us fresh from local farmers. Our lettuce, onions, and tomatoes are delivered to Nation’s stores every night along with our homemade pies.

  • our story at 1989


    Toni and Fred Goozen used 250 Nation’s ice cream cartons to build the Pink Goose for the Milk Carton Boat Race at Clear Lake in July 1989.

    Our first store on the Peninsula opened in Daly City at the Westlake Mall.

  • our story at 1989


    Strawberry tarts became very popular. We start producing them in April or May once prime strawberry season begins.

  • our story at 1991


    We introduced the ever-popular Harvester sandwich.

  • our story at 1994


    Dale Power became president of Nation’s Foodservice Inc. after Russ Harvey retired.

  • our story at 2002


    We celebrated the opening of the Coffee Museum at Peerless Coffee’s home office. Peerless Coffee is our oldest vendor and we are their oldest customer.

  • our story at 2004


    Our wild, ocean-caught Salmon Burger was added to our menu.

  • our story at 2010


    Look how we’ve grown; our managers gathered for a training session in 2010.

  • our story at 2011


    Citrus Heights opened in Sacramento County, as our first store in that area.

  • our story at 2015


    Grant Power became the new president of Nation’s Foodservice Inc., while Dale Power transitioned to chairman of the board.

  • our story at 2016


    We continued our expansion by opening a store in Stockton.

  • our story at 2020


    Our Vallejo store received a makeover.

  • our story at 2020


    Nation’s Natomas opened in Sacramento.

  • 2022

    Our 70th birthday is here, the legacy continues.


Since 1974, we’ve had our own fleet of pie trucks that make deliveries every night.
On a daily basis we top nearly 800 pies using our pie topping machine added in 2011.

From 1978 to 2000, we opened or relocated a store every year.

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