Blast From the Past: Burger Chef

Burger Chef was founded in 1954.


Burger Chef at one time was the chief competition for McDonalds, but the company no longer existed after the last restaurant was closed 14 years ago in 1999.

The Burger Chef restaurant chain started with the opening of a fast food restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950’s.


Burger Chef featured a 45 cent combo, which consisted of 15 cent hamburger, 15 cent French fries and 15 cent milk shake . This same combo today would cost at least $3 and up since shakes aren’t usually included in combo specials.

This menu shows prices of a combo had skyrocketed to 60 cents with 23 cent hamburger, 22 cent French fries and  25 cent milk shake which was still a real bargain compared to what a value meal costs today.


The photo above shows coffee being sold for 12 cents. Try going to Starbucks and asking for a 12 cent cup of coffee and see the looks you get. Five apple turnovers for a $1 also sounds like a good deal. Noticed that you had to spring for an extra four cents to buy a cheeseburger for 27 cents.


Burger Chef saved on labor costs by having dogs cooking up the burgers.


Burger Chef was sold to General Foods Corporation in 1968. They started a Fun Meal for kids in the early 70’s and sued McDonalds, when they started serving Happy Meals, but lost their case in court.

General Foods would divest themselves of their ownership in Burger Chef, by selling the company to Imasco, a Canadian company which also owned the Hardee’s chain of fast food restaurants.

There may no longer be any Burger Chef’s in operation, but will always have the memory of the store in Alexandria, Louisiana too many years ago to remember.

Burger Chef no longer exists, but their competitor McDonalds is still going strong with over 34,000 stores operating worldwide with 1.7 million employees.

McDonalds may have won the burger wars, but they can’t take the memories away from Burger Chef fans.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

16 thoughts on “Blast From the Past: Burger Chef”

  1. I loved their “Big Chef” sandwiches. I can still remember the day I found out “Burger Chef” went belly up. One of my favouite meals was to go to a local place called “The Hot Dog Shoppe” and get their cheddar-chilli fries and then run to Burger King and get a couple “Big Chefs” I go to “Burger King” and the place was boarded up… A day which will live in infamy.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories of Burger Chef. It had to be a sad day to see your Burger Chef boarded up. General Foods must have done something to cause the company to be sold to Hardees and eventually go out of business. Wish we had 45 cent combos today.

  2. Do you remember “Winky’s?” Not as good as Burger King as I recall.. the local one was more famous for their cockroaches than their burgers..

  3. Winky’s only stayed in business from 1962 to 1982. Their slogan was “Winky’s makes you happy to be hungry”. Their slogan should have been “Winky’s makes you happy if they forget to include cockroaches with your burger”.

    1. Richard, Sadly the last Burger Chef closed 22 years ago, as told in this Wikipedia entry:

      Burger Chef was an American fast-food restaurant chain. It began operating in 1954 in Indianapolis, Indiana, expanded throughout the United States, and, at its peak in 1973, had 1,050 locations.[1] The chain featured several signature items, such as the Big Shef and Super Shef hamburgers.

      In 1982, the General Foods Corporation, then-owners of the Burger Chef trademark and name, divested itself of the restaurant chain, gradually selling to the owners of Hardee’s. The final restaurant to carry the Burger Chef name closed in 1996.

  4. In 1962 we lived across the street from aBurger Chef in Jackson Michigan, they had a loud speaker that played music all day untill they close at 11 pm. They played their theme song over and over and I never tired if hearing it and today it still plays in my head clear as if I’d heard it yesterday; 🎶🎶🎶15 cents, a nickel and a dime, at Burger Chef, you can get it anytime, …french fried potatoes, big thick shakes, and the biggest 15 cent, hamburger yet!!!

    1. Kenny, Thanks for sharing your memories of the Burger Chef across the street from your house. I graduated from high school in 1962, so I remember the Burger Chef in Alexandria, Louisiana.

    2. Art Dolan was the franchisee in Jackson. He’s credited with putting the fish sandwich on the menu.

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