Nat Bailey

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Nat Bailey
Nat bailey cropped vpl collection.jpg
Nat Bailey in 1961
Born(1902-01-31)January 31, 1902
DiedMarch 27, 1978(1978-03-27) (aged 76)
OccupationFounder of White Spot

Nathaniel Ryal Bailey (January 31, 1902 – March 27, 1978), better known as Nat Bailey, was an American-born Canadian restaurateur best known for building the first drive-in restaurant in Canada, in 1928, and developing the first car-hop tray. His chain of White Spot restaurants continues to thrive today.


Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bailey moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1913. He started his business career selling peanuts during games at the Vancouver Forum. He expanded his business by adding hot drinks and hamburgers. Nat purchased a truck which he turned into a food wagon that he would park along Marine Drive and sell his food items, while saving his money to one day have his own restaurant. When the Forum's roof collapsed in 1934, he built a type of log cabin White Spot at 70th and Granville in Vancouver's Marpole district. During the first opening year, Nat would sleep on the floor in the kitchen of his restaurant, as that was his "home" and he was fiercely dedicated to saving his money.

The logs were painted white and the ends painted green. Nat said that he choose the color green because it was the color of money and he choose white because it showed cleanliness. This was the first drive-in in Canada. The car-hops wore green uniforms with Naugahyde captain's caps, and a white stripe down the pant leg. Nat's specially designed tray fit between the car's window sills. He became famous for his hamburgers, which used Nat's "secret sauce", which was rumored to be Thousand Island dressing mixed with mayonnaise, but he never revealed the recipe.

It has been reported that, as the condiments used came in large containers, he poured the excess dill pickle juice into the depleted mayonnaise jars, then put this mixture into the depleted ketchup containers, then added the relish from the depleted relish containers, to which was added the juice and residue from the slicing of tomatoes, adding the resultant mixture to a commercial Thousand Island dressing.

When a customer desired extra sauce on their burger, the waiter/car-hop would squiggle three O's on the order slip to notify the kitchen. This has evolved into the current copyrighted "Triple-O Sauce" and Triple-O's Restaurants owned by White Spot Restaurants.

Later, Nat became famous for his "Chicken Pickens" and "Chicken In The Straw." This was long before the Colonel and KFC were on the scene. Nat built several of the drive-ins throughout Vancouver and Victoria. He sold the chain to General Foods when he retired as a famous restaurateur and community sports supporter.

Throughout the years, Nat would make unannounced visits to his restaurants wearing white gloves which he would swipe his finger along window sills, kitchen equipment, booths, floors and so on. If he had dirt on his white gloves, he would talk to that restaurant's manager, as Nat expected complete cleanliness in all of his locations.

During his early White Spot days, Nat had an equipment salesman who would visit and sell him various restaurant equipment and sundries. The fellow was Ray Kroc who later bought the single California restaurant, McDonald's from two brothers and then in 1955, began to build it into what eventually became the largest fast food restaurant franchise in the world. Nat and Ray would meet up at various restaurant related conventions and they did remain personal friends until Nat's passing in 1978.

In the 1960s, Nat built the Villa Hotel on Dominion St. and he paid CDN $1,000,000 for it. The cancelled check was framed and hung in his office until his passing. He said it was the largest check he ever signed. Nat was a humble and frugal person. He would say that when he flew somewhere that he sat in the economy section because he didn't feel that his rear was so fat that he needed a larger seat, and that he got to his destination at the same time as everyone else.

For many years, Nat lived in a beautiful "modern ranch" styled house located on the south east corner of Cambie St. and W 33rd Ave. It was near the entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park and within walking distance to the Nat Bailey ballpark stadium.

Bailey was a Freemason, and supporter of the Marpole Rotary Club, as well as the Chamber of Commerce.

Sports involvement[edit]

Bailey was also a supporter of little league baseball in the city of Vancouver and was a part owner of the Vancouver Mounties professional team. His love of the game was commemorated with the renaming of Capilano Stadium to Nat Bailey Stadium after his death in 1978. The reasons for his death are unknown. Nat Bailey Stadium is currently the home of the Vancouver Canadians, a short season Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

External links[edit]

  • Bio - Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon records