Back in 1967, Stella Cordova was working as a cook at Chubby Burger at 1231 West 38th Avenue when its owner, Bill Gray, asked if she wanted to buy the place. Even though she had a big family and little money, she took him up on his offer, paying on the installment plan. She kept the Chubby's name but changed the menu, replacing the typical drive-in fare with her own green chile recipes and other Mexican dishes that soon became legendary around town.
Stella worked at Chubby's for forty years, until she was about to turn 100. And even when she was no longer stirring the pot in the kitchen, she would stop in almost every day, to check on whether the food was adhering to her standards and to chat with the regulars who'd line up in the tiny lobby to wait for their orders.
Stella passed away in 2009, her grandson Danny Cordova took over day-to-day responsibility for what was by then known as the "original" Chubby's (to distinguish it from eateries opened by other relatives, all sporting some variation on the menu and name). And he came up with the idea of building a brand-new Original Chubby's Burger Drive-Inn, an eatery with a dining room where fans could sit down and eat their smothered chile cheese fries, in the parking lot right behind the actual original.
The new Chubby's opened in December, paving the way for the original Chubby's to be knocked down and replaced by a parking lot. But it will be business as usual at the new Original Chubby's Burger Drive-Inn, which opens today at 6 a.m.
Can't you already taste that green chile?