Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Burger Chef Restaurant History. Many stores in Illinois.

Frank P. Thomas Sr. founded the General Equipment Company in Indianapolis in 1930 to manufacture his new invention, which he named the Nu-Way frozen custard machine. In 1951, Thomas Sr. retired at 75 years old and gave his company stock to his two sons, Frank P. Thomas Jr. and Donald J. Thomas, and his son-in-law Robert Wildman.
A photograph of the EZE-Way frozen custard machine at a trade show around 1950. Frank P. Thomas Sr. eliminated the principle of using chipped ice and salt for freezing frozen custard in his Nu-Way machines when he installed compressors and changed the name to EZE-Way because the machines were easier to use.
With the introduction of the Sani-Shake machine and the Sani-Broiler around 1956, General Equipment Company was manufacturing most ot the basic machines necessary for operating a drive-in resturant.
With the introduction of the Sani-Shake machine and the Sani-Broiler around 1956, General Equipment Company was manufacturing most ot the basic machines necessary for operating a drive-in resturant.
The very first Burger Chef restaurant opened in May of 1957 and was located in the Little America Amusement Park in Indianapolis. Frank P. Thomas Jr. built this demonstration store to showcase his restaurant equipment in actual operation, and there were no plans to franchise the concept at this point.

In late 1957, Frank P. Thomas Jr., Donald J. Thomas, and Robert Wildman made plans were made to creat a new division of the General Equipment Company called Burger Chef.
Artist's rendition of a Burger Chef location like this one were often included in franchise materials sent out to attract potential restaurant owners.
The chain expanded throughout the United States, and at its peak, in 1973 with 1,050 locations, was second only to McDonald's in the number of locations nationwide. The chain featured several signature items such as the Big Shef and Super Shef hamburgers. Their first hamburgers sold for 15¢.
In the late 1950s, they created the first "value combo" as a 15¢ hamburger, 15¢ fries, and 15¢ vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry milkshake. It was known as the "Triple Treat." Free Triple Treat coupons were often given as promotional items.
The Pied Piper was an experimental food truck.
Pied Piper was an experimental atttempt by Burger chef in 1962 to expand its fast-food concept into other areas. Restaurant machines by the General Equipment Company were installed in Volkswagen vans like this one. Food was then prepared in the vans and sold door-to-door to local businesses.
General Foods purchased the chain in 1968 and added menu items such as the Top Shef (bacon/cheeseburger) and a chicken club sandwich (with bacon). The Works Bar allowed customers to purchase a plain burger and pile it high with the toppings of their choice. 
The chain had two mascots: Burger Chef (voiced by Paul Winchell) and Jeff (the chef's juvenile sidekick).

In 1971, Burger Chef was poised to surpass McDonald’s as the largest hamburger chain in the U.S., with 1200 locations nationwide. Not too bad for a restaurant that was created as an afterthought to showcase the General Restaurant Equipment Company’s new flame broiler. In addition to their Big Shef (double burger) and Super Shef (quarter pound burger), the company introduced a Fun Meal, which included a burger, fries, drink, dessert, and a toy for the kids. 

Burger Chef sued McDonald’s in 1979 when that company introduced their Happy Meal but ultimately lost.
                                   1973                                                                    1978

1966 Downtown Burger Chef in St. Louis, Missouri.
But in 1982 General Foods decided to get out of the burger business and sold the chain to Imasco Ltd., the parent company of Hardee’s for $44 million. Hardee's let franchises and locations near existing Hardee's locations convert to other brands. Remaining restaurants that did not convert to Hardee's or new names and branding were simply closed.
College students enjoying lunch at a Burger Chef restaurant.
Hardee's brought back the Big Shef hamburger for a limited time in 2001, 2007, and 2014 at some Midwestern locations.

Advertising Slogans
1970–1971 – "There's more to like at Burger Chef."
                         "Burger Chef goes all out to please your family."
1971–1976 – "You get more to like at Burger Chef."
1976–1980 – "We really give you the works."
                         "Open wide America, you never can forget. You get more to like at Burger                                    Chef.
1980–1996 – "Nowhere else but Burger Chef."

VIDEO
The Complete Collection of Burger Chef TV Commercials

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The History of the Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago's Loop since 1898.

Herman Berghoff immigrated to America from Dortmund, Germany, in 1870. Herman and his three brothers, Henry, Hubert and Gustav, started brewing Berghoff's Beer in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1887. 
The Berghoff Family as they began brewing Berghoff Beer.
When the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition opened in 1893, Berghoff set up a stand on the Midway Plaisance and sold his beer to people entering and exiting the fair. His success at the fair prompted him to consider a more permanent place to sell his beer in Chicago. Thus, The Berghoff opened doors in 1898. His Dortmunder-style beers was sold for a nickel and they came with a side sandwich, free! 

The Berghoff Restaurant, at 17 West Adams Street, near the center of Chicago's Loop, was opened in 1898 and has since become a famous institution.

When Prohibition hit, Herman saw it as an opportunity to expand his business as opposed to shutting down. He began brewing “near beer” (which is now sold as Berghoff's Root Beer) and Berghoff pop (soda pop for you non-Chicagoans) while also expanding the food service.
A historic photo of The Berghoff Restaurant on West Adams Street in downtown Chicago.
During the 14 years that Prohibition was in effect, The Berghoff Restaurant became well known for authentic German fare. After prohibition was repealed in 1933, The Berghoff was issued Chicago's #1 Liquor License.
A photo of Herman Berghoff holding Chicago's first-ever liquor license after Prohibition.
Long after most restaurants ended the practice, the Berghoff maintained a separate men's only bar.
Celebrating the repeal of Prohibition at the Berghoff Restaurant's Men-Only Tavern.
It wasn’t until Gloria Steinem and six other members of the National Organization for Women stood at the bar and demanded to be served in 1969 that the segregation ended.

For much of its history, the Berghoff waiters would purchase the meals they were serving from the kitchen and then deliver them to the customer, keeping the amount the customer paid for the meals.
A sample of one of The Berghoff Restaurant's old menus.
On December 28, 2005, it was announced by Herman Berghoff, 70, and his wife Jan Berghoff that after 107 years of operation, The Berghoff would close on February 28, 2006. Herman and Jan were the third generation of Berghoffs to own the restaurant.
The restaurant's basement cafe reopened on April 18, 2006, during weekday lunch hours only, and was run by Carlyn Berghoff, Herman and Jan's daughter. She also reopened the Berghoff's bar on May 23, 2006, under the new name "17-West at The Berghoff." At one point, Carlyn Berghoff converted the dining room of the restaurant into a private banquet hall called "The Century Room.", however, it's back and running as a full-service restaurant like it once did.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Bagel Restaurant and Deli of Chicago & Skokie, Illinois.

After surviving the Holocaust, Elsa and Herman Golenzer, who had owned a restaurant in Hamburg, Germany, along with their children Michael and Ruth, brought their family recipes and authentic Old World cooking to Chicago's North Side.
A favorite menu item is Lox, chive cream cheese, onion and tomato on a bagel.
The original 34-seat location at 4806 North Kedzie Avenue was formerly occupied by a baker called "The Bagel Bakery." The family was unable to afford a new sign so they decided to go with the name "The Bagel Restaurant" and kept the sign in place.

Ruth's sons Danny and the late Michael took over in 1969.
4806 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, location.
4806 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, location.
In 1977, demand for The Bagel's offerings outstripped the capabilities of its original location's seating capacity so the deli moved to its second location at 3000 West Devon Avenue in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of the West Ridge community, where it remained for 15 years.
3000 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, location.
Two weeks after closing the Devon location, The Bagel opened up in Lakeview at 3107 North Broadway Avenue in December 1992.
3107 North Broadway, Chicago, Illinois, location.
The Old Orchard Shopping Center location in Skokie first opened in 1987.
Old Orchard Shopping Center location in Skokie, Illinois.
Deli Counter at the Old Orchard Shopping Center location in Skokie, Illinois.
Since the closure of the Lord & Taylor store next door, the owners of Old Orchard have been planning to reconfigure the area. The Bagel's Skokie locations lease had already expired and had been operating month to month. They tried to stay open as long as they could because their customers were like family. 

The Bagel Deli and Restaurant closed the Skokie location on November 29, 2018.

In hundreds of replies from disappointed customers, longtime patrons bemoaned the loss of favorite menu items like kreplach and matzah ball soup and questioned the reasons for the restaurant's closure. Some suggested Old Orchard had decided not to renew the lease. Others suggested Skokie's tax rates were a contributing factor.

The Bagel's 3107 North Broadway location in Chicago is still open as of the date at the top of the article. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.