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Classic Boise drive-in burger joint Golden Wheel closes for the final time

The Golden Wheel Drive-in in Boise has closed. It served up its final meals last night.

It was the kind of place where you could sip on a huckleberry milk shake, eat a Double Meat Burger and enjoy some fries while thinking about years gone by. The kind of place immortalized in not just one but two art pieces.

Golden Wheel, in operation at 11000 W. Fairview since 1962 according to property records, used to sit out mostly alone along Fairview just past Five Mile. A burger oasis amongst farm fields – where you would stop for lunch on that “long drive” from Boise to Meridian.

These days, the two cities have largely grown together with an invisible border. The farm fields along Fairview are mostly replaced with car dealerships.

[Inspired by the Navy, Boise pop-up offers burgers with a twist for the summer]

A long history

Jim and Ele Desaro bought Golden Wheel in 1977. Jimmie grew up in Parma, joined the Army, and came back to Idaho to work at Triangle Dairy. Golden Wheel became the family business, with family members flipping burgers, manning the till and welcoming guests.

Jimmie died in 2015, and his family kept the place running for the next six years or so.

We stopped by earlier this week and watched a stream of folks walk up and drive-thru. Employees asked us to keep the closure quiet. Food stock was already running low.

It fit with the low profile the Desaro family kept. You won’t find many news stories or profiles. But they held an annual fundraiser for the WCA. And car shows for 4-H. And fundraisers for the Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Jimmie Desaro Memorial Foundation still holds an annual fishing tournament, set for later this month in Cascade. Proceeds go to local high school fishing programs.

The Golden Wheel was an old part of Boise. It joins the likes of College In & Out, The Wave and Chow Now as classic places for a greasy burger that exist only in memories.

Fanci Freez, Big Bun, Hawkins Pac-Out, and Viking Drive-In will have to carry the torch, for now.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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