GREENSBORO — Beef Burger, the iconic burger joint, has permanently closed its doors after serving the Greensboro community for more than six decades.
According to a family member of owner Ralph Havis, Beef Burger officially ended its lease with the property owner of the West Gate City Boulevard building on Monday.
The closure comes less than a month after a rumor spread on social media that Beef Burger was shutting down, which sent hundreds of people flocking to the restaurant for one last Beef Burger meal. Employees scrambled to fill orders all day for a line of customers that wrapped alongside the building.
A social media rumor that the Greensboro institution is closing sent hundreds flocking to the iconic burger joint on Monday. "This is what it used to be like for us," a former employee said.
At the time, employees assured customers that the rumor online was false — they weren’t closing. But many customers wondered if there was some truth to it, having heard that Havis was hospitalized in poor health.
Havis’ family member, who wished to remain anonymous because of harsh comments from people upset over the closure, said Havis’ health concerns are why Beef Burger has closed.
“His health is drastically going downhill,” she said. “He can longer run the business.”
The entire family is “deeply saddened” by the closure, but with no other family members in a position to run the restaurant, they know it’s the right choice.
“(Havis) has fed this community for years and it was his life,” the family member said. “But he can’t do it anymore.”
Beef Burger, once called Biff-Burger, began as a chain of drive-up hamburger stands that sprouted from Florida to Toronto in the mid-1950s. Some locations in the Biff chain, which stood for “best in fast food,” were gobbled up by Burger King in the 1960s.
To avoid confusion, then-owner Homer E. Griggs changed the name of his remaining restaurants to Beef Burger. Havis, who bought the franchise 10 years after he started working there, owns the last remaining Beef Burger.
For Greensboro community members, a visit to the restaurant tended to be a sentimental experience. The building, with its sloping roof and wall of windows, boasts familiar faded yellow, blue and red paint, while the inside featured the same vintage decor it did years and years ago.
For Havis, Beef Burger has been his entire life, his family member said.
“He’s been a staple within that community,” she said. “The heartbeat of the whole business.”
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.