Chicago’s Vanished Hamburger Restaurants.

Here is a Yankee Doodle Dandy Restaurant. Once located in Maywood, IL.

Hello everyone. Today I will be writing about restaurants that served hamburgers in the Chicagoland area that are no longer around. There were a few that people fondly remembered and are still talked about today. Currently, few hamburger restaurants are part of franchises in Chicago. There is McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Others that have arrived in the area in recent years are Steak n’ Shake and Fuddruckers. I believe all the Fuddruckers locations in Chicago are closed now.

I will now mention the hamburger restaurants that I remembered as a child from dining there and its TV commercials. First, there was Henry Hamburgers. The restaurant entered the Chicagoland area in the mid-1950s. I never had the opportunity to eat there. There weren’t any when I lived in the South Shore and Roseland neighborhoods of Chicago. In South Shore in the 1960s, there was a restaurant called The Red Barn. It served hamburgers and fried chicken. I never dined there, but many people on social media have mentioned the place frequently. It was a popular place at the time. Henry’s Hamburgers were an ideal favorite to everyone as Mcdonald’s and Burger King. The Chicago locations closed in the 1970s. There is one left in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The others that I remembered were Jack In the Box, Burger Chef, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Of the three, only Burger Chef is the one I never ate there. I remembered the Burger Chef TV commercials that aired on WFLD-TV Channel 32 in Chicago in the 1970s. Their two famous hamburgers were Big Shef and Super Shef. Their locations closed in the early 1980s. Jack In The Box was in the Chicagoland area for years. I remembered one in the city and was at the corner of West Fullerton Avenue and Kimball Ave. It was across the street from the Avon Theater. It is still in business on the west coast.

Yankee Doodle Dandy was another one that people remembered. Its Dandyburger was everyone’s favorite. Also on its menu was roast beef and fried chicken. The buildings had a red, white, and blue motif. Their jingle in the early 1970s was “Come On Down Where The Good Times Are! Yankee Doodle Dandy!” The logos of those restaurants were so iconic. The Jack in the Box clown head drive-thru menu was colorful. I’m unsure if Burger Chef or Yankee Doodle Dandy had drive-thrus when they were in business.

The other three places that served hamburgers were Chicken Unlimited, Gossage Grill, and Wimpy’s. Chicken Unlimited, notable for its fried chicken, had hamburgers on its menu. It was called the Whamburger. I have eaten it, and it was enjoyable. Gossage Grill was a well-remembered place in Chicago. People have said their hamburgers were delicious. The Wimpy hamburgers brand undoubtedly inspired by the character of J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons. It was enormously popular when it was in downtown Chicago. Other locations closed in the 1960s.

When I started my Facebook page a few years ago, a restaurant that closed down years ago was mentioned frequently in the comments. It was called the Come Back Inn, and it was at Melrose Park, Illinois. Their desired item on the menu was the Kodiak Burger. It was a half-pound hamburger on dark Bavarian bread. It was a huge seller. I am amazed that the restaurant and menu item made an enormous impact on everyone that dined there.

Today I still eat hamburgers outside the home. I eat fast food infrequently. I get a craving for White Castle hamburgers at times. I have been eating since I was a teenager. It’s across the street from Bogan High School in Chicago. My favorite one right now is from Portillo’s.
The best hamburgers to eat are homemade. There is no comparison. If you have or had a favorite place for eating hamburgers, please comment here or on my social media accounts. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.


16 thoughts on “Chicago’s Vanished Hamburger Restaurants.

  1. A little off topic here, but I remember a place called Chicken Delight. I never ate there, but still remember their little jingle that they used on TV: “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!” A couple of times I’ve asked my wife if we could not cook tonight and call Chicken Delight. She looked at me kind of funny: she didn’t grow up in Chicago 😉

  2. ” EAT AT THE RED BARN” “Henry’s is where you eat” The chicken would ask the other character have you ever tried ” Chicken Unlimited?” “No” was the answer and the chicken would give a politically incorrect punch in the face to the other character ” well try it”. Personally Come Back Inn with the Kodiak Burger was the best and and plate of fried onions rings on the side a coronary waiting to happen….Perhaps do a blog on defunct car dealers now they had some memorable commerical jingles.

  3. Portillos is good but even better burgers at Superdawg. There are two locations.

  4. A&W used to have the Burger Family, Papa burger, Mama burger, Baby burger and the related mascots. I don’t know if there are any A&Ws left in the Chicagoland area. My favorite was always the one at Woodfield

  5. Loved the Hackneyburgers at Hackney’s in Glenview with a fried onion loaf.

  6. Gus’s at 51st & California – a one man operation in a shack on the corner and Nap’s Snack Shack – moved to 55th & Mozart from the original Shack down the street probably late 40’s or early 50’s. Host to several generations of Gage Parker’s. Gus had great greasy burgers marinated in I think beef broth and Naps broiled theirs.
    Both very neighborhood kinds of places. Central Steel workers may remember Gus’s. I think he home was on the same lot as the shack.

  7. I’m not sure how the burgers were at Jack in the Box, but the super greasy tacos were the perfect end to a late night out. Somehow they were crunchy and greasy soggy at the same time. Alcohol may have made them taste better then they were, but I just remember them being great.

    1. For me it was White Castle hamburgers (“buy ’em by the sack”). They weren’t crunchy but they tasted good and it was one of the few places still open after the bars closed. No point in paying more than twenty-nine cents (or whatever) each, especially since you were likely to be sick the next morning anyway. Boy I hope that young adults today behave better than we did!

  8. John the Hot Dog King his first stand was on 62nd and Damen.Then moved to 63rd and Mozart.Hand made patti every time .Fries were made on site fresh from the spud.A southsider from Englewood or Marquette park would remember Johns.A true staple.

  9. My dad’s first job in High School was at a Jack In The Box in Oak Park, apparently they had first drive thru with a clown to take your order. I asked my grandpa years ago if he ever went and ate there and his reply was “I’m not going to talk to a G***Clown” old WW2 vet… sounded funnier than when it’s read of course. But my neighborhood had ground round and a Cock Robin. Prince Castle looks just like White Castle btw.

  10. Just looked up Kodiac burger to see if it was a thing outside the Come Back Inn…
    Loved the giant stuffed bear on outside, didnt care for the Ground Round style penut shells on floor….made me think they didnt clean

  11. We lived near Superburger on Stoney Island and about 85th Place. They were pretty good old style thing patties. A good memory.

    1. Do you remember what the dog looked like for Superburger? There was a place on Stoney Island we used to get burgers from; I remember the sign but I can’t remember the name. Thanks.

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