Burger ChefThe Burger Chef chain may not be in operation anymore, but it was a long lasting chain that made an impact on the hamburger industry in America. Frank and Donald Thomas decided to open a burger joint in 1954 after creating the Flame Broiler, which was perfectly suited for cooking ground beef patties. The first Burger Chef was opened in Indianapolis, Indiana. Burger Chef was the first fast food chain to offer a combo meal.  At the end of the 1950s you could buy a meal consisting of a hamburger and order of fries and your choice of soft drink for only $.45.  For a nickel more you could add a milkshake.

Burger Chef was the first fast food chain to offer a combo meal.  At the end of the 1950s you could buy a meal consisting of a hamburger and order of fries and your choice of soft drink for only $.45.  For a nickel more you could add a milkshake.

Burger ChefThe chain was very popular and spread quickly across both coasts.  In the 60s the chain was second only in size to McDonald’s.  General Foods bought the chain in 1968, but after 20 years couldn’t keep up with the rapid growth that Burger Chef was known for. The chain was sold to a Canadian company that also operated the Hardee’s chain.  Many iconic Burger Chef locations were converted into Hardee’s.  After this point the number of Burger Chef locations dropped each year, and the Cookeville, Tennessee location was the last to lose its name in 1996.

The chain’s popularity was driven in part by the Works Bar where customers could add their own toppings to any hamburger.  The chain sold basic hamburgers and cheeseburgers as well as the iconic double pattied Big Shef, 1/3 Top Shef and the Super Shef with extra condiments and toppings. The Mushroom Burger, topped with mushrooms and ketchup, was also available. Other sandwiches included a fish sandwich called the Skipper’s Treat and the shaved ham sandwich known as the Yumbo.