To the delight of many, Burger Hut is back nearly three years after abruptly closing its doors even when business was thriving.
El Dorado Hills residents and owners, Bill and Tammy White, patiently waited for the reopening as well. Without going into too much detail, Bill said they want to move on from the rent snafu of early summer 2010.
“The landlords of the Safeway shopping center (where Burger Hut used to be) made a business deal that was right for them, and I don’t blame them for that,” he said. Chase Bank moved into the old Burger Hut space.
“We aren’t victims,” he continued, even though patrons were steaming mad at the time.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Tammy added.
After two years managing the restaurant, Bill spent precious time with his father who passed away just two months after the restaurant’s closure.
Bill went back to work at Energy Wise construction. But every time the couple and their two sons drove down Francisco Drive and saw the vacant Round Table Pizza location, Tammy would say, “That would be the perfect place to reopen Burger Hut.” She envisioned a large game room for what she calls the SPLG, or “Safeway Parking Lot Gang,” — kids who cruise on foot on most school days through the shopping center, a group to which her 13-year-old son also belongs.
On May 3 their dream finally became reality when they opened their doors in that exact location in the Lake Forest Plaza. “We like this location even better; it’s bigger and more open. We can have patio seating and we were even able to build that game room,” said Tammy with pride. “There’s really something for everyone now to enjoy a family dining experience.”
Their dream to open a Burger Hut goes back to Tammy’s upbringing in Chico. She ate at the original Burger Hut on Nord Avenue since it opened in 1978. “To people that are from Chico, Burger Hut is practically a landmark,” she said. “Even Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Chico native, announced on national television that Burger Hut is what he missed most about home.”
In 2008, after living in El Dorado Hills for 10 years, nostalgia sparked a great idea. Tammy and her parents read that Burger Hut in Chico was expanding and looking for franchisees.
Owners of the only Burger Hut not in the Chico area, the family would like to open even more in the future.
During their grand re-opening weekend, lines of people happily waited. What’s a line when they’d already waited three years? They were hungry for the burgers that are always made from fresh, never frozen, beef, and Burger Hut’s famous milkshakes.
“We also have options for non-meat eaters, and a salad bar,” said Bill. “And our fresh fixin’s condiment bar allows people to put whatever they like on their burgers, including our secret sauce.”
The Whites said they look forward to getting back to normal, including giving back to the community they love. They also want to create a new generation of Burger Hut fans — kids who will grow up going to Burger Hut just like Tammy did. “It’s neat to see the little kids we saw three years ago back in for opening weekend, a foot taller than before,” she said.
Six of their original employees are also back on staff. Tammy credited Bill as “a great manager.”
“We are so glad to be back,” they said in between greeting old regulars. “People have asked us every day for the past three years, ‘When are you bringing back our Burger Hut?’ We want to thank everyone for waiting so patiently.”