Thursday, September 12, 2019

Big-T Burger, Devon and Milwaukee Avenues, Chicago.

Looking North from Devon at Milwaukee from the southwest corner. The late 1970s.
Charles "Chuck" Nichols ran a Tastee Freeze franchise (still serving the "Big Tee Burger"), which closed every winter when ice cream lost its appeal. Nichols renegotiated the lease with the building's owner and turned the space into a burger business to operate year-round. To attract teens from nearby Taft High School, he dubbed the restaurant "Big-T Burger." 

Nichols worked there seven days a week. He overcame competition from a nearby McDonald's, Burger King, and Superdawg across the street. 

On the last day of business, before Nichols was forced to close Big-T Burger, he told his sons to be at their "very best." He adhered to the 'always do your best' philosophy himself and ingrained it in his employees. 

Nichols gave more than his time to the business. Homeless people often wandered into Big-T Burger, and Nichols knew every one of them by name. He would give them a hot dog and a cup of coffee when they came in and let them warm-up or cool off. 
The "Big Tee Burger" from "BIG-t Burgers" in Amman, Jordan.

Chuck Nichols of Park Ridge died on October 26, 2003, at 89 years old.


Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. I remember the place - My husband graduated high school with the owners son

  2. By the time we moved into the area, this place was part of a parking lot for a small strip mall. Sad, I would have enjoyed going there, and meeting Nichols. The Burger King tht was a block or two south is also long gone.

  3. What a good man! He gave the homeless food. I wish every restaurant or diner did this. Small acts of kindness make a difference in our world.

  4. I grew up in the neighborhood just west of Big T Burger off of Devon Ave. We had two of the best fast food places on Chicago at Milwaukee and Devon (Big T Burger and Superdawg). When I was a teenager in the early and mid 60's we would sit on our cars and drink cokes and just hang around at the Big T. It was the cool thing to do! Sometimes we would go across the street and play miniature golf at DeMil miniature golf course.

  5. Big-T was my first job ever starting at age 15.
    Charlie was a great guy and it was like family working there because so many families had multiple kids work there through their high school years, mine was one of them - three boys.


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