Burger Chef Memories

Thanks for visiting - to mute the background music go to bottom and hit pause.

                              Above art created by me from a 1959 Advertising - Original Chef disappeared quickly in ads, I thought it be nice to bring him back.

Web site operated by Kyle Brown, Louisville KY

Web Site started May 2, 2003    -    Latest update January 2, 2021

 over 17 years on the Web ! ! !


Burger Chef Restaurants operated from 1957 to 1996.


Below is an re-creation of what the Louisville Downtowner looked like.

Gary Edelen Worked there from Sept 1967 to Feb 1968

GO TO Page 4.b. for more info, and Thanks Gary!!


Check out new page 27 from the O'Neil Family!!

New pictures and information !!


Officially franchised in 1958, bought by Hardees' in Dec 1981. 

The last Burger Chef remained open till 1996* in Cookeville TN.

* This was in name only, no support from Hardee's was given.


Added More photos and ads for New Albany IN Store No. 167 in Lou KY Page


NEW INFO ON Valparaiso IN Store Photo below!!


Check out new pics from Richard (Rick) Tollmann



Route 130 Burlington, NJ

...more on Shared Page






May 2014 Mad Men visit Burger Chef!! - 1969 LOOK

Below, shot of them interviewing customers outside circa 1969

Recreated inside to look like it did in 1969, a few mistakes but Great job!!

Below, the actual store that was painted and redone in Riato, CA

Anyone know what happened after the show left?? Did they leave it painted or not?? Please help?!?

_________  _______  _______   _______  __________


New - 1983 pics of the Norwalk BC from Theresa, THANKS


Look for a couple more pictures in the shared page!



Currently Working on adding new Pictures from Tampa FL area Franchise.

below, Aug 9, 1969 Grand Opening day of Burger Chef Number 1000 ! ! !


Below - Myself, September 2012 - visit to Clearwater, Florida

with a 1978 Road sign.

Watch for new pictures from Treasure Island/Clearwater/St. Petersburg and Tampa area Burger Chefs !!




                                   Above, 1975 picture of crew serving at front counter.

                        Below, Cash Register Sign (from my collection) as seen above.



Have an i-phone? Share this site with friends and family

by showing them the site from your phone!

Just go to your brouser and type in:





Well...  I've been looking for an old 1960's trash can decal since the Lester's from GA, sold some on eBay 11 years ago...













...and to my surprise, one appeared on eBay last week !

These were placed on trash cans starting about 1964, when they began purchasing cans from Lawson Co.


Above, new Indy store 1967, anyone know what street this was on?


I am adding the pictures from the training film strips I bought.

The pictures have taken a lot of work to scan and clean up, the film strips are red from age (45+ years old) but

thank goodness for photoshop, it has made it easier... I will be adding these to the new page 26.



Above, this was an original walk up with a new glass enclosure and new seating installed about 1965. Notice the glass is built outside of the kite and the short counter still has the glass around it.



These are vintage 1965, Big Shef had just came out at 39 cents, hamburgers were still 15 cents.


 The Stools and Tables had only been out about a year.









Have started adding pics in the Photo Training page 26


Big up-date to Madison IN Page 24.

Below, 1959 High School Yearbook picture.









Any corrections please feel free to e-mail me.



Friend and Franchise Owner - Mr. Peter DeBeer Passed away Feb. 5, 2011

He had made so many contributions to this site, he will be missed and fondly remembered !



ADDED NEW PAGE No. 25 Tribute  to Art Dolan of Jackson MI


Loveland Ohio - Summer 1976


Thanks Steve E. for the photo !


Below, another former bc, Merritt Island FL - May 2010

above, 1115 N. Courtenay Parkway, Merrit Island FL - classic 1966-68 era built, more pics in Shared Page

above, former Burger Chef in St. Petersburg Fla. 5236 16th Street built about 1966-68

more pictures in the Shared Page.


Photo from Rodney, from a Louisville Burger Chef about 1974 or 75

Believed to be the Valley Station Road location, this would have been just before the remodeling.


                                                  Number Of Burger Chef stores opened - Company and Franchise.

                                                     Year      Added    Total Stores

                                                     1958            8                8

                                                     1959           25              33

                                                     1960           40              73

                                                     1961           47             120

                                                     1962           50             170

                                                     1963           70             240

                                                     1964           95             335

                                                     1965          105            440 

                                                     1967                            681

                                                     4/1968                         914     

                             500th lease signed - Temple, TX -  Nov 65

                            1000th Store Opened - Treasure Island. FL - Aug 1969

By the mid/late 1960's lease numbers surpassed stores open, meaning some were closing.

By mid/late 1970's lease numbers in the 1800's, but less than 900 stores were open.

When a lease was signed it would be assigned a store number, at times it could take upto a year for

the store to be built and opened.



Please check out new page "24. The Madison - 1957"


   Original Logo from 1957 

 July 1957

 Sept 2009

I went to visit one of the Original bc buildings, Madison Indiana.

This was an equipment demonstrator building and they served Burgers and Shakes.

I creating a page devoted to this original store, "24. Madison In - 1957"

UPDATED June 20, 2011


Myself and Zelda the Basset and my 'ole B. C. shirt - 1980



THE WAIT IS OVER ! ! !   Burger Chef Book is available NOW !


NEW  * * * Click below for info on the July 6, 2009 release of the much anticipated book * * * NEW

"Burger Chef (Images of America)"


This book has contributions from the founders and family of Burger Chef and some from this site too ! ! !


Frank P. Thomas Jr., Donald J. Thomas, and Robert E. Wildman, owners of the General Equipment Company, entered into the fast-food business by opening a 15 cent hamburger restaurant called Burger Chef in Indianapolis in 1958. General Equipment was a manufacturer of restaurant machinery and built the equipment installed in each Burger Chef store. The partners started their new Burger Chef division to sell more equipment; they never could have imagined that Burger Chef would eventually grow to become the nation's second-largest hamburger chain and beloved by customers in towns and cities across America. Burger Chef continued in business until 1982, cooking its popular flame-broiled hamburgers and introducing its memorable advertising icons, Burger Chef and Jeff.


Scott R. Sanders has been a collector of Burger Chef history, advertising, and ephemera for over six years. He is an elementary teacher for the Alvin Independent School District in Alvin, Texas. Burger Chef is a photographic history of the famous hamburger chain that contains rare images from Winthrop University's Louise Pettus Archives and the Hazel Park Historical Society, as well as the personal collections of its founders, the author, and others.


As a special note:  All three Founders of Burger Chef have all sadly passed away in 2008. The book has a 2003 interview with President Frank Thomas Jr. by the author, and loads of photos from Frank and Don Thomas.  It is really great that Scott Sanders was able to assemble such a project. 

The book is a great tribute to Frank Thomas Jr, Don Thomas and Bob Wildman and their creation: Burger Chef Restaurants. Their hopes and dreams will live on in all our memories...



I would like to mention, I have not and will not use pictures from the book here on this site.

When you see photos on here that are also in the book, it means I already had them 

and the pictures were contributed to the book project by me and my family. 

Heck, check out my site again, pics in the book are b&w compared to the color versions here ...   

I hope we don't start seeing the book photos copied on web sites?


* * * NEW - page 23 - Tribute to Mr. Henry Schroeder, Burger Chef Owner/Franchisee

He opened a Burger Chef franchise in Danville, Illinois in 1960, and his was a very successful operation ! !

They are celebrating 50 years during the month of July 2010 ! !



 Where/How they would have hung.


 Above, are two menu board panels from about 1965 or 66 that my Dad gave me. 

They are 2 X 2 foot and were back lite on the menu boards.  Small pics from GA-Lester Family 1970



 Bedford, Indiana

 1978 July 4th Parade


 see Bedford Page for this one and 1 more





Please enjoy these pictures !    But...

PLEASE - I ask that no one reproduces these and sell them on anything - PLEASE

Valparaiso IN Burger Chef

The man on the side with the 2 employees is Bob Wright, Area Supervisor

see Ad below for names of guys in photo

   Valparaiso, Indiana on Calumet Rd across from the old Porter County Fairgrounds.    

   Valparaiso is in northeast IN, near Gary.   


 This is the earliest photo from

  Burger Chef that I have seen.

There are several differences from other early pictures.

The road sign has neon instead of light bulbs.  Missing, are the wording

"We sell millions nationwide" below HAMBURGERS. 

The building does not have the large orange diamonds yet (added in Summer 1959)

BC made minor changes during the first year.

  This is one of the first 8 Burger Chef's of IN, IL and WI.

This is probably the first Burger Chef at 3200 W. 16th Street, Indianapolis IN, home of BURGER CHEF until 1969. 

** The more I learn, the more I think this photo is of the first Burger Chef .  Here is what makes me think this, by the end of the year of 1958, bc had already refined the look that would be used for the first 4 to 5 years.  This photo closest resembled the original drawing of the concept building in 1957.  By the end of the 1st year (1958) the road sign had light bulbs and the back kite in the building was removed and only the forward most kite was built. Comparing it to the first store photo from the book, "Lost Indianapolis", the painted parking spots look identical to this photo.  The first bc was located at 3200 W. 16th St, a few miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis IN - Opened- Spring 1958.



   Below, 1963 - Burger Chef 5 Year Anniversary


 Left - Don Thomas Sr., Vice Pres.

 Center - Frank Thomas Jr., President

 Right - Bob Wildman, Sec/Treas.














        Burger Chef - 1963

 Original Walk-up with temporary winter enclosure added.

 Notice,  no white globes or any inside seating at all.

 Picture came from Franchise Owner in Louisville KY,

 He's not sure if it is of his first store or just a promo pic given to him?

 His first store would have been at 4431 Dixie Hwy, store number 168.


                                                                                                                                  Look for Burger Chef van on page 4b

The winter enclosure would be removed when spring arrived, this was to keep customers warm while waiting...

This was also the new lighting package, with neon removed and white light boxes added to the sign and front "kite" with orange diamonds. I believe the permanent glass front with seating and inside light globes were being developed about this time (1963) because by early 1964 new built stores were built with these new amenities.

The sign colors were changes from dark background and white letters to the white background and blue letters, this was a major upgrade the company stores were changed to and the franchise stores were strongly encouraged to upgrade to also, this remained the look until late 1969 when the COSMO II became the look with the lava rock and new Yellow and Red colors.



 Newest addition to my bc collection.

  Rescued from a flea market in Richmond, VA

  Sold on eBay, bought by me.


 Cup used from about 1966 to 1970.


     As seen in this Post Card about 1966.






 HERE NOW - Page 19 - new pictures 2008

New page dedicated to Burger Chef of Georgia

      Burger Chef of Georgia, one of their first stores about 1965




above, Burger Chef and Jeff wearing new uniforms - 1978









Logo from cup from 60's








             Art Work from about 1967

Logo/art called the open kite design. This was used 1958 to 1968.


                                                                                                                   Art of roadsign - 1958

Mid 1960's drawing of Burger Chef carry-out service.


New Chef logo introduced 1962


Burger Chef, in an attempt to cater to a younger crowd, introduced a younger looking chef in 1962.

These translights have Original logo used on fry bag, cups were used about 1967 to 1970.


  Welcoming customers during the 60's                    Late 1960's new logo from General Foods


Logo developed by new owners

General Foods of New York, 1970 - burger and flame logo.

New image of being a family style restaurant versus just being fast carry out style as before.

About 1972, 4 years after Burger Chef was bought by General Foods they changed to this logo.

To this day, it is the one everyone remembers most. It was created from the Funburger art designs.


                         Below is Menu Board insert from 1970's



***I have left open the option to give people the ability to right click and save my images.  However those who have copied them to create web pages or are reselling these images on magnets, may force me to delete this option.  I will e-mail those interested in these images on request, I haven't made up my mind yet.  Tell me what you guys think.

Shawn Wolfe, please get original, and get your own images.

Sorry for the disclaimer. 



                 above, new logo from 1978


Thank You for visiting!!!!!!!Please check back for additions, Kyle

Please visit MY Other Burger Chef Site!!!


Memories II  *2005 updates*


Please visit these other great Burger Chef sites !







If you remember Burger Chef, then you'll probally remember Red Barn Restaurants

Check out this web site!  http://www.barnbuster.net



About Me.......

I was born in Louisville, KY in August 1963.  My Dad is James Wm. (Jim) Brown.  He went to work for the Okolona Burger Chef in the evenings to make extra money in early 1965.  He was working in electronics after his tour in the Air Force.  He took to Burger Chef pretty fast, it wasn't but a few months and he was made an assistant mgr, then a Relief Manager, all while in his first year of working there.  He was given his first store to manage,when a new Burger Chef opened at 5109 New Cut Road in the Spring 1966.  He was moved around to open other new Burger Chef's in Louisville.  He helped develop and open the new Louisville's Downtowner Burger Chef at 619 1/2 S. 4th St.   Just after opening the Downtowner (Aug 1967) he was promoted to Area Supervisor in 1968.   His job was to supervise the manager's of all the Louisville and So. Indiana Burger Chef Restaurants owned by the franchise group.  It was about this time my brother and I got to trade off who could go to work with him on Saturday's for half days.  I remember just sitting in a chair by the manager's office watching the guys put meat on the broiler chains and seeing the burgers drop out the end, and watching them assemble sandwiches and slide them to the front counter. 

Burger Chef in the middle 1960's was growing by leaps and bounds...  Burger Chef in Louisville was operated by a franchise group that was always working to stay on top of Burger Chef's growth.  Remodeling stores, adding new/maintaining cooking equipment, always trying new promotions and products etc.  We were always in the back of the restaurants.  We were always behind the scenes, every new burger, new promotion, our garage was full of old and new stuff.  I have old chair-back stools and table tops from remodels, old clocks and plaques.  We were at all the Grand Openings, some before I can remember... 

My fondness of Burger Chef comes from a childhood that is so full of memories, I had to call this site Burger Chef Memories.   I am retired from my local fire department as an Assistant Chief  and still live in Louisville KY.  If Burger Chef Restaurants had not closed, who knows what job I would have now... I worked for the Okolona Burger Chef from 1980-81 just a half mile from where I now live.

A sad note, My Dad passed away September 21, 2019, he was 78, he could still remember the phone numbers to all the stores and their store ID numbers... I do and will always miss him.

                   Thanks to all who visit and especially to those who leave feedback in the guestbook!!!! 

 It has been 15 years since I started this web site.  Thanks to all that have contributed!!!!

  Again, THANKS for ALL the comments and stories left in Guestbook !


***  If you have a question, or an offer of something or photographs

      please email me at captofd@aol.com I will return original photos if requested.