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RoadTrip Down Memory Lane

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RoadTrip Down Memory Lane

Fullerton, California

This RoadTrip down memory lane celebrates American innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit after World War II. K.O.’s dad, Karl Olmsted, is an example of self-made business success. In honor of him, we created a giant ribeye steak recipe commensurate with his life achievements. The Guitar Steak recipe is linked below, but enjoy the story about our honoree before you cook this special occasion meal.


Mapping the Day

He was just out of high school when World War II erupted. Somehow Karl found his way to learn a vital trade for wartime. He was a machinist, a tool and die maker. During the war, Douglas Aircraft employed 160,000 workers. The company was in the midst of manufacturing 30,000 aircraft for the United States government.  Karl and his bride Katherine were among them.

Karl and Katherine Olmsted

Local Story

When the war ended however, there were cutbacks at Douglas. Government aircraft contracts dried up. So Karl saw opportunity for applying his tool and die making skills in his own home town of Fullerton. He and his friend Lyman forged out on their own. They founded Race and Olmsted Tool and Die in 1947. They opened their first shop on Spadra in Fullerton. Later they moved to space in an industrial park on Ash in Fullerton.

And as good fortune would have it another local Fullerton businessman named Leo Fender moved from Spadra to the industrial office park as well.  He was developing groundbreaking electric guitars. In the development, Fender needed metal parts. Race and Olmsted’s expertise and willingness to partner in design was exactly what he needed.  It is well documented in Fender history books that Karl and Lyman were integral players in delivering creative solutions for development and manufacture to Fender Guitars, in particular for the Fender Stratocaster. Race & Olmsted continued to make Fender’s tooling and metal parts for more than 30 years.


Karl & Strat

Race & Olmsted developed parts for the Fender Stratocaster off of this 1954 prototype guitar. It was a fixture in the Race & Olmsted shop until the business was sold in 1982.


View from the Table

Every RoadTripFlavors post connects somehow to food. It is well-known that Karl almost always went home for lunch. But when we investigated if he ever went out to lunch for business in Fullerton in those days, it was revealed that he usually dined at a place called Easton’s Brown Mug Cafe. There is very little information about the restaurant that burned down before the age of internet. But we did find a matchbook and a yearbook ad that gave clues about the menu, including “Dinosaur Steaks”.


Brown Mug

Easton’s Brown Mug Cafe memorabilia. A matchbook touting their famous “Dinosaur Steaks” and a business card sized ad in the 1958 Fullerton Junior College Yearbook. Note that it is placed right next to an ad for Fender Guitars.


I can certainly see Karl ordering a giant Dinosaur Steak to celebrate his business prowess once in a while. So in honor of a self-made man, who created innovative solutions for the manufacture of epic guitars, we created The Guitar Steak. Karl would have loved it.


The Guitar Steak with Karl’s Grill Rub

The Guitar Steak Recipe


Karl’s Grill Rub Recipe


The Guitar Steak

  1. Thanks for the interesting bit of local history!

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