Sean Hong of Irv’s Burgers, a WeHo Institution, Has Died

Irv's burgers
Sonia Hong, left, with her brother Sean and mother, Mamma Soon. (Photo from Facebook)

The recent death of Soo (Sean) Hong, brother of Sonia Hong, the owner of Irv’s Burgers, has led to the temporary closing of that famous hamburger restaurant.

A sign posted on the door notes that “… Hong passed away September 3, 2017 after a sudden devastating medical issue. The funeral will be held privately on September 21, 2017. Sonia and Mama thank everyone for their support during this difficult time.”

Irv’s Burgers is 67-year-old institution in West Hollywood, originally launched at 8289 Santa Monica Blvd. and known as Queenies’ Burger and Joe’s Burgers. Irv Gendis named it Irv’s Burgers when he bought it in 1970. It was known as a hangout for rock stars such as Jim Morrison of The Doors.

Sonia Hong, her brother Sean and her mother, Mamma-Soon, bought the place from Gendis in 2000. It then was located near the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue.

The Hongs faced several efforts to demolish Irv’s. The City of West Hollywood designated Irv’s Burgers as a cultural resource in 2005 after a campaign dubbed the “Burger Brigade” that was sparked by the property owner’s plan to demolish Irv’s and use the area for parking for a Peet’s Coffee planned for the adjacent lot. That lot later became the site of Beach Nation, an outdoor restaurant that closed not long after it opened. The site currently is being redeveloped for an unknown restaurant.

Irv’s closed in October 2013 after being served an eviction notice by Standard Oil, the owner of its lot and that of Beach Nation, which had attempted to double Irv’s lease. It moved to its current location at 7998 Santa Monica Blvd. near North Laurel.

Irv’s has established a GoFundMe account to raise money for Sean Hong’s funeral. It can be found here.


6 Comments
  1. My sincerest condolences to the family that has always been a great part of our neighborhood for many years now. Sean was a wonderful person, iconic, always kind and happy. I said hi to him a day before as I was getting gas next door. This is sad news.

  2. I’m so sad to hear this news. Any day my wife and I spotted him was a better, nicer, kinder day. Rip.

  3. R.I.P. Sean. You were always a friendly, happy face to see–whether you were working at the counter or just walking around the neighborhood delivering your delicious food. You will be missed.

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