BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Hanging out at the soda fountain is an image indelibly etched into mid-20th century Americana. But those American Graffiti postcard doesn’t exist in real life, do they?

Well, not at the moment – at least not on 19th Street, where the Woolworth’s lunch counter is closed  – temporarily – while the new owners, financial planners the Moneywise Guys, prepare for a major renovation.

But not so major the old five-and-dime, a 44,000-square-foot midcentury modern building built in 1949, will lose its value as a historic landmark.

Dave Anderson of the Moneywise Guys wants to protect the building’s historical integrity by placing it on a national historic registry – which will, among other things, guarantee that the lunch counter cannot be removed.

“We’re going through the process of getting the building registered as a historic building with the national parks,” he said. “What it does is it kind of forces everybody involved to respect  the history of the building.”

Owners of historic buildings typically receive tax breaks in exchange for guaranteeing that they’ll preserve certain distinctive features of the structure. Bakersfield already has several buildings on national, state or local historic registries, but nothing like in other cities.

“We have, I believe, it’s 12 to 14 buildings that are actually registered,” Anderson said. “As a comparison, Fresno has over 200.”

The Moneywise Guys continue to search for a lunch counter operator who’ll pick up where the former longtime operator left off a couple of weeks ago. But there’s a catch – the counter will have to shut down for several months, perhaps a year, while the whole building undergoes a major renovation starting in August that will create retail and office space, residential units and a basement music venue. Running the lunch counter then, Anderson promises, will be much more appealing.

You may not think of a 50s diner as deserving of historical protection. The new owners of this iconic slice of Americana think a piping hot cheeseburger one of these days might change your mind.