Johnny Rockets 1995

Post by Mark


It was around 5AM and I was sitting at Johnny Rockets Salmiya waiting for my meal when it suddenly hit me, the place hadn’t changed one tiny bit since it first opened back in 1995. I quickly snapped a few pictures and decided to send it to my high school crush who I used to frequent Johnny Rockets with all the time. A minute later she responds… Memories!!!!

Back in 1995/1996, during my senior year in high school, Fuddruckers was the place to go. I mean there weren’t that many options anyway, none of the restaurants you see on the Gulf Road today existed back then, we didn’t have any malls like we do today except for Laila Gallery, Zahra Complex and Salhiya. So as teenagers we spent most of our time either hanging out at each others homes or the ice skating rink which was honestly pretty cool back then with Snap and Soul II Soul being blasted loudly by the DJ while we played with the arcade machines and watched people skate. So when Fuddruckers opened everyone in Kuwait was there on the weekends. It used to be super crowded and such a fun place to just chill and meet up with teens from other schools. Then Johnny Rockets opened and everyone started going there.

We were around 5 in my group, 2 girls and 3 guys and we started going to Johnny Rockets instead of Fuddruckers like most other teens. I lived on Salem Mubarek Street so my friends would just get dropped off at my place and we’d hang out in my room for a bit before walking down to Johnny. We usually headed to the Video Club first which was across the street from Johnny so we could check out the latest music tapes and CDs. We’d then visit the bookshop next door and flip through the magazines before heading over to Johnny. By the time we’d get to Johnny we would all have spent whatever little money we had on music tapes or magazines so we’d put whatever change we had together and order one cup of tea. I only ever ate there a handful of times as a teenager, and the first time was on a date with my high school crush. Our love affair with Johnny Rockets didn’t last very long though. Since the place was small and Johnny became the “it” place to be, it used to get overcrowded and mostly with teenagers like us who would only order a couple of drinks and then sit there. Forever. So, Johnny Rockets started implementing a minimum order, I think it was KD1.750 per person, so we couldn’t afford hanging out there anymore. Instead we started chilling outside Johnny Rockets, on the sidewalk until a short while later McDonalds opened up above it and it became our hangout spot.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes we don’t appreciate things until they’re gone, but I want to take this moment and appreciate Johnny Rockets while it’s still here. Thank you Johnny Rockets for not changing and still being here.

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77 comments, add your own...

  1. Yazan says:

    Wow wow wow sooo much memories, our group use to do the exact same thing, we use to hang out in fudruckers (which for some reason is still my favourtie burger joint in kuwait,) or Johnny Rockets. The first time i ever tried chili cheese fries was in Johnny Rockets!! Memories😍😍😍😍😍

  2. meh says:

    I wish somebody brings back A&W.

  3. adly says:

    what a lovely tipsy ramble. I take my kids there a lot anf feel the same way every time I go #nostalgia

  4. Abhijit says:

    That’s a beautiful post!

  5. Row says:

    Omg I think we all did the exact same thing haha. We didn’t have much back then, but I would rather have that than what the new generation have now. It was just a lot more simple back then.

  6. Ahmad Alattar says:

    What a beautiful days !
    The mall was only for families no single guys allowed

  7. Dun says:

    My high school memories are quite hazy (and a little kushy). But I seem to remember that the staff at Johnny’s were on roller skates for the first couple of months when they opened. I also remember a pedestrian tunnel in the middle of all of this. That tunnel got to be really fun as we got older ;)

    Great place, and fantastic times.

    • Mark says:

      Pedestrian tunnel was at the traffic light intersection, we used to call it the subway tunnel cuz there was the subway music shop located there among the shisha places. Tunnel was always dark, wet and stank of piss. Most of the time there were also bedo kids waiting on the other side who would throw tiny stones at you as you came out.

  8. couplesonly says:

    Shout out The Originals Crew X, The Chicanos, The Blacks 69, J Town, Salwa, The Failakawi, and love to Salmiya where everyone met to love, fight and barty barty. May she always live – pour some out for anyone we lost too soon. Young bikers, riders, warriors and all! Peace

    p.s if u were missed out don’t get arsey just shout out your own damn sets

    • Mark says:

      Funny story about Crew X. I used to hang with some of the Crew X guys and we were once at Fuddruckers hanging out outside when a fight broke out. Among things that were being thrown at each other we were also grabbing a handful of pebbles from around the plants and throwing it at the other party. I ended up shattering one of the glass windows but management caught one of my Crew X friends instead thinking he did it. I went over and took all the blame for the glass breakage and then got interrogated by the dickhead management for like half an hour before they called my parents and banned me and my crew x friends from going back to Fudds. The gang became super loyal to me after that.

      Another incident with crew x, I invited them over to one of or school carnivals since me and a friend were DJing. So once my set was done this kid like from two classes younger than me comes up to me and told me my set sucked and walks away. Instantly one of the crew x guys pulls out a sharp pencil from under his shirt sleeve and looks at me and says want me fucking stab him? I was like what? No! What the fuck?!

      Used to be so much fun hanging out with them, it was like being in prison and knowing the strongest gang inside had your back.

  9. Kuwait says:

    Well said. And thoughtful :)

    Another ‘it’ place for my friends and I to hang out those days was ‘Salmiya Center’ lolz. That is the old shopping street in Salem al Mubarek street.

    I still think kids who grew up here in the 80s and 90s had the most chill time ever.

  10. Rest in power, Manara Bookshop. Such fond memories.

    Before I went to film school, I learnt everything about film from their Empire magazine stash.


  11. q80 says:

    You brought back nice memories .. what a great place and location.. hope it stays forever

  12. Marcopolo says:

    And the jukebox used to work.

  13. stk90 says:

    a song for the occasion ? :-)

    The Wombats – 1996

  14. Yusuf M says:

    But did you smash?

  15. _sK says:

    I kinda recall the few years before 1995, Back in 1993, when Al Anjeri center in old salmiya was a BIG DEAL, Hardee’s, Hungry Buddy & PizzHut were the rendezvous spots for a drink if we didn’t have enough money left for a meal.

    Golden dayes.

  16. Firangi Pani says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this entry. By far, your bestest post ever. What thinking about Johnny Rockets circa 1995-96 does to you and your crush, the whole of Salem Mubarak street circa 1978-1990 does to me, myself and mine. I get goose bumps just thinking about the Swan Lake, the New Supermarket, the Mobilia House, Family Book store, the Fay trading company in Christmas, Wazzan Patisserie and Barakat, the shawarmrie. I’d give anything to see Salem Mubarak street revived to its pristine glory. And what to say of the eye candy we used to have back then?

  17. Think says:

    Oh yes! For my friends it was all about Videoclub, Al-Manara Bookshop (for WWF magazines and Goosebumps) and throwing water balloons at cars ;)

    On that note, I just found out that they tore down the building that housed Videoclub and Manara Bookshop which actually made me stop and look back at those memories.

  18. Mark Ruffalo Was Here says:

    Mark, there used to be another New Supermarket in town where the Panasonic tower is at today. They used to carry the best dairy produce including a selection of the finest European cheeses and chocolats. I just loved the smell of that store or its cooling system, which I forget:)

  19. richo says:

    Nice pic,it looks like a screenshot from Dick Tracy movie

  20. John says:

    I should borrow my buddy’s 1959 Cadillac and 1955 Chevy and park ’em infront of Johnny Rockets and snap a few pictures that would be badass!

  21. Buzz says:

    Nice shot, very Edward Hopper-esque. Equipment?

  22. yousefq8 says:

    Hello childhood, my old friend. When Johnny Rockets opened up, it became the de-facto hangout spot. I mean, Wendy’s was cool and all with the Nintendo arcade cabinet in the basement, but the experience you got at Johnny Rockets was just so unique thanks to the diner concept. I think it solidified Salmiya as the go-to hangout spot, and that only got amplified when Fanar opened.

    Salmiya and Al-Muthana Complex. That was my childhood until all the malls started popping up. Remember when the first Burger King opened up in Kuwait? I may be wrong, but I think it was the first time Burger King opened in Kuwait, and it was at Al-Muthana.

  23. Xeno says:

    Excellent Post.

  24. Taz says:

    This is probably your best post. I still love and miss Kuwait because of these little little things; now I live far away in a more complicated world and this post brought back the soul to my cold life here. Thank you :-)

  25. teenum says:

    Can you post a coloured version of the photo you took? I want it as my wallpaper.

  26. MousePotato says:

    Amazing post man. Loved it. Would love to meet you some day.

  27. Murrka says:

    The fact you still have a good relationship with your “crush” after all these years, speaks to the type of person you are. Keep up the great work Mark.

  28. Reality says:

    Oh the memories. Best days ever

  29. Hamad says:

    Wish I could relate to this haha xD still amazing shoot! I feel it would be cool if you do more of this kind of post. Exploring what considered nostalgic to you. Probably make it a weekly segment? Give it a thought =D Cheers.

  30. Bogus Interruptus says:

    Bingo contest in the Arab Times, Safeway by Americana, Vimto as the only habba present and an ad free KTV2 with such steals, as the Paper Chase, Cine Club, Falcon Crest, Return to Eden, Omar Al Mukhtar and Friday night Big league soccer are a few of the cherished memories I have growing up of a CLEANER, gentler Kuwait; one that was perhapsmore Mediterranean in flavour perhaps than Khaleeji and more European in character than American.

  31. Stuart says:

    Mark: I love the photograph here you took. It is impressive and even though I wasn’t in Kuwait in 1995/1996, the photo gives off that vibe.

  32. AJ says:

    Shoutout to Swan Lake and Bellz – the ultimate resource for tapes, posters and tapestries!

  33. 7ammoud says:

    Damn it Mark ..

    I actually had my very first date there. I still go there every now and then just for the memories !

    Speaking of food and memories, There used to be a shawarma place on the corner by NBK called Al Ajami .. Best beef shawarma in Kuwait’s history imho

  34. jm says:

    great post great memories great pic.
    thanks mark

  35. Burhan Khalid says:

    You know it is funny how everyone has the same memory, in Bahrain where I was in boarding school, we had the exact same thing; my friend’s big brother took us to what was (at that time) the hottest burger joint – Fuddruckers and he introduced me to chili cheese fries.

    Good old days of cassette tapes, walkmans and Atari 2600.

  36. saif says:

    I miss Kuwait

  37. The Fountain of Life says:

    My uncle and his wife were in Kuwait since 1949,about the same time as the Nakaba was happening in Palestine. I distinctly remember they would, in 1980, reminisce about the good old days in the late 50s, 60s and early 70s in much the same manner as all of us are doing now looking back at the 80s and 90s. Guess, at some level we all like living in the past as it gives us some sense of feeling in control rather than the present or the future over which we have little or no control.
    Again, the sea-side traditional coffee shops and Souk Mubarakiya in its hey day were among the most treasured and missed aspects of life in Kuwait, pre- invasion.

  38. PedroD says:

    Remember when they use to have some harley bikes displayed on the windows and later removed when a car crashed into the corner good old days my uncle use to take us there when I was Young now I go there by my self haah .. but really well done love the shot

  39. Just says:

    Who remembers that on the opposite side which used to sell those caps with the metal fronts, the gold chains, the do-rags. It was on the first floor of this shopping center.

    They had everything hip hop related.

    Jeez we thought we were the shit coming out of that shop.

  40. Moe says:

    Its been a while since you wrote a sentimental post Mark! They’re the best, especially since its involving nostalgia.

  41. We love Cheap Thrills says:

    It’s not really about the mortar and the bricks of yesteryear that has me yearning for more but I guess it’s about the humanity, the warm Arabian hospitality and above all, the sense of community spirit that I sorely miss about the Virgin bride of the Gulf until she was desecrated at the time of the invasion. Life was simple, far less complicated and I suppose people were more easy going and less self absorbed than now which is saying more about the digital revolution than anything else but even so.
    If there’s one thing I would want for the country that has given so much to me is for there to be a large International Food Mill straight out of Salhia complex in each neighborhood with the aroma of coffee wafting everywhere you go.

  42. salah says:

    I lived in Salem Al Mubarak street back then too! And we also used to hang out at my place before heading down to Layla Gallery. Johnny was practically a new addition to my teenage years, as we were all about Wendy’s and Arby’s. Pizzahut next to Zahra complex was also so cool to eat at. Yeah, I remember the place being too hot and expensive. By the way, al Dawliya video was in the same street as Johnny Rockets, not across. It was in the same place where coffee bean and tea is right now.

    Which building were you living in exactly?

  43. Mousetrap says:

    Have fond memories of the Hunting & Equestrian Club off Sixth Ring Road. I think that’s the closest we got to having a country club in this country. There were many a Thursday afternoons spent watching the wonder girls, Nadia & Gemila Mutawa do their thing at the show-jumping event.
    As an aside, I also miss terribly the old location of the Carmelite Convent school I attended for the first three years living in Kuwait. It was bang next to Dasman palace and right by where Mais Alghanim is stood facing the Arabian Sea. It was a dream location for a school and a convent school at that. We were housed inside of a sprawling campus comprising one and two storied villas bordering the Embassy of Great Britain on one side and Dasman Palace on the other. It was fantasy land having the morning school assembly under the shade of a tree and swaying to the breeze as you heard the sound of waves crashing in, at high tide. Equally I guess, the Kuwait Towers was the first thing you could see outta the window and so there was never any dull moment in school not even for the moral science and math lessons.

  44. Skools kool says:

    Mark, this entry is begging for a sequel only this time make it a ‘Back to School’ edition one and soon.

  45. thedoc_46 says:

    I know what u did here with the black and white filter Mark. with this,one can’t find out u have parked on a no parking zone :D. Ha ha ha..On a more serious note though, this is easily one of ur best posts. Keep up the good work brother.

  46. Moey says:

    I miss the billiards place across that, and A&W and Wendy’s arcades and the shops in both malls across that had metal band t-shirts, spikes and cool outfits back then. The Al Dawliya for my video shopping…

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