The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

The Old Burger Chef in London: The BC Lounge Burns Down

November 15th, 2008 . by Alexander Fisher

Burger Chef, the last one

Just recently I found out the old Burger Chef in London, Ohio had burned down. They said that the fire was suspicious, but I have never heard what they ever found out about it. More recently it had been a Rax restaurant. Thirty-five years ago it was in the busiest part of town, but that activity mostly shifted about two miles to the north-east twenty years ago now.

I remember when they built the Burger Chef in the early 1970’s. It was the first real fast food restaurant and had the first drive-thru window in town. My sister got a job there and I was treated to one of the first meals served at the restaurant during a family night event they held the night before the grand opening. There were about twenty to thirty people, all standing at the counter ordering free food. You would have thought civilization had finally just come to London after all these years looking at everyone’s faces.

The previous popular teenage cruising loop had been from the Dixie Drive In to the Red Baron restaurant. That was probably about three miles and five traffic lights long. Almost immediately the Burger Chef became the main part of the new loop for the local cruisers. You would get a mix of local hot rods, hot rod wannabe’s and teenagers in their dad’s four door sedans driving through the parking lot. Cars and people would be everywhere, especially on a summer weekend night. On those evenings, the parking lot would be full. There would be people just milling about and on bicycles. Kraco 8-tracks players with Bass 48 wedge speakers battled Craig Powerplay car stereos with Jensen Triaxials for audio dominance. There were houses across the street and most of the time the residents would sit on the porch to watch the procession of cars and people.

When they first opened the BC Lounge, as we called it, none of my crowd owned a car. I did a lot of walking and hanging around at the park and at the corners downtown, hoping someone would pick us up so we could ride around with them. When that didn’t happen, we would go to the Burger Chef and sit in a booth for long periods of time. At first the managers didn’t really say anything to us, but after a while they told us that we had to start buying something to be there, even just a drink. We actually did spend money there, when we had any. I think that would have been the end of that, but later on I think the manager had had enough of some of the members of this growing group of teenagers. Sometimes they were loud and intimidating, especially to paying customers. Where we usually sat was by the restrooms and a drinking fountain. I’m sure that having to walk past a bunch of loud scary kids was not always such a pleasant experience for some customers. I can say I never bothered anyone, but some of my acquaintances could be unpredictable at times. The managers finally threw us out and told us to not come back in the restaurant. I am not sure what it was that finally made them run us off, but I was guilty by association and so I wasn’t welcome there for awhile.

Inside the restaurant was a nice place to be when it was cold outside, but when the parking lot was full, the excitement was there. People would cruise through the lot. Some would park and just watch other cars file by. Many times there was underage drinking, drug use and dealing. Quite a number of times fights broke out. But mostly the police just left the people alone. They would drive through and if anyone was doing something dangerous, stupid, or illegal they would stop. But not that often.

I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle in the parking lot on July 4, 1976. I flew over the trunk and my bicycle was fatally injured.

Once after I graduated high school, I borrowed an early video tape recorder and camera and went riding around with a friend and was taking video of the cars cruising through the parking lot. The police came through the lot, stopped and got out of their car and came up to us. We had gone by the police station earlier with the camera and the policeman told us the dispatcher thought we had a gun and hit the floor. We were unaware that had happened, even after we looked at the video. I video taped the entire conversation. Probably because he was on camera, the policeman was very polite and just let us off with a warning to be careful. I could tell he was nervous on the tape. He was afraid of being on the 11 o’clock news.

Another time I strapped on a pair of pole climbing hooks and climbed a pole in the parking lot on a busy Friday night.

There were many illegal and immoral things that went on in that parking lot, but I’d bet many young men and women found their first loves there. Possibly several couples married and many children were born because of the Burger Chef parking lot. Maybe some were even conceived in it.

No doubt the building the Burger Chef was in will be demolished, many years after it has become a local eyesore. But the end of Burger Chef came back when the parent company no longer could compete with the burger super-chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. The area of town that was so thriving in the past was now dying because the stores were moving or closing. Even the Rax restaurant was too late to take advantage and never performed to the levels that the Burger Chef achieved in those years before. As the traffic slowed, so did the fun.

There were good times to be had hanging around the Burger Chef in the 70’s and I think about them on occasion. It was the place to see and be seen. Now It’s just a fond memory for those that were there.

The food wasn’t too bad either.

One Response to “The Old Burger Chef in London: The BC Lounge Burns Down”

  1. comment number 1 by: suepass

    I loved the story about Burger Chef and it was so true. It brought back such wonderful memories. Thanks for the memories.


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