Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Burger Chef

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Hamburgers, fast food


Sold to Hardee's

Ceased operations

Burger Chef wwwfreewebscomburgerchef197320logoJPG

1996; 21 years ago (1996)

Lum's, Howard Johnson's, Gino's Hamburgers

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. 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.


In 1954, Frank and Donald Thomas patented the flame broiler in their parent company General Equipment Corporation and started their own restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1957, they opened their first Burger Chef.

Burger Chef spread across the United States, following a strategy of opening outlets in smaller towns. By 1972 its number of locations (1,200) was only surpassed by McDonald's (1,600). They offered a double burger, called the Big Shef, and later the quarter-pound hamburger, Super Shef. Subsequently, they added the Works Bar, where customers added their own toppings to hamburgers.

In 1968, General Foods Corporation purchased the chain and continued its rapid expansion. At the time of the purchase by General Foods, Burger Chef had 600 locations in 39 states. The chain had two mascots: Burger Chef (voiced by Paul Winchell) and Jeff (the chef's juvenile sidekick). In the early 1970s, the chain introduced the Funburger and the Funmeal, with packaging that included stories about Burger Chef and Jeff's adventures and friends (including the magician Burgerini, vampire Count Fangburger, talking ape Burgerilla, and Cackleburger the witch), with riddles, puzzles, and small toys. When McDonald's introduced their Happy Meal in 1979, the chain sued, but ultimately lost.

In 1982, General Foods sold Burger Chef to the Canadian company Imasco, which also owned Hardee's, for $44 million. Imasco converted many locations to Hardee's restaurants and let franchises and locations near existing Hardee's locations convert to other brands. Remaining restaurants that did not convert to Hardee's or new names and branding simply closed.

Hardee's brought back the Big Shef hamburger for a limited time in 2001, 2007, and 2014 at some Midwestern locations.

In 2014 the final season of the television drama Mad Men featured the fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper & Partners pursuing (and winning) Burger Chef as a client.

Trademark suit

In January 2007, River West Brands, LLC, of Chicago, Illinois, sued Hardee's Food Systems in the US Patents and Trademarks Office, claiming "abandonment" of the Burger Chef trademark. On April 16, 2009, River West Brands dropped their petition for cancellation, and both parties agreed to pay their own attorneys' fees.


  • 1980-1996 – "Nowhere else but Burger Chef."
  • 1976-1980 – "We really give you the works." and "Open wide America, you never can forget. You get more to like at Burger Chef."
  • 1971-1976 – "You get more to like at Burger Chef."
  • 1970-1971 – "There's more to like at Burger Chef." and "Burger Chef goes all out to please your family."
  • References

    Burger Chef Wikipedia