Retro Fun

Herald Tribune
Sarasota, Florida
Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009
By Steve Echeverria Jr.


Fun never goes out of style.

Especially when you're eating a legendary Biff Delux hamburger and crispy tator tots, seated inside the last remaining Biff-Burger Drive Thru in America, which is conveniently located in St. Petersburg.

As one of the nation's first burger chains, Biff Burgers' once had hundreds of stands stretching from Florida to Toronto, gaining peak popularity during the 1950s and '60s.

Today, locals who call the Gulf home come for the cheap food, Old Florida camaraderie, weekly classic cars and bike shows, said co-owner Troy Musser.

"The most important thing about Biff's," he said, "is that it's been here for 50 years. It's the nostalgia."

Those pining for the days of way back won't have to venture far because the Tampa Bay area features plenty of old school fun with a 21st century twist.

Whether it's classic drive-in burgers, upscale restaurants or movie-watching during a four-course meal, entertainment that's affordable, unexpected and nostalgic is making a comeback.

Customers in front of Biff-Burger, St. Pertersburg

Photo courtesy of Chip Litherland

Jenny Naegele of St. Petersburg wears beer goggles as she hangs out with friends at Biff-Burger in St. Petersburg this month. The burger joint, which opened in the 1950's, is the last of the Biff-Burger chain and is still packing in the crowds in St. Petersburg every night.

 

Built in 1958, Biff-Burger and the adjoining Buffy's Southern Pit BBQ (3939 49th St. N.) are all about the honoring the good old days, from the original multicolored sign advertising "Char-Broil" to the pink 1957 Chevrolet spinning on the roof to the massive menu featuring hot dogs on buttered buns, barbecued pork sandwiches, hand-dipped ice-creams and more.

In fact, servers still bring those famous Biff burgers, one of those fresh and cooked-to-order patties they can watch being made, in clear plastic bags.

"That's from the original days and the whole idea about a messy burger dripping all over," said Musser, whose parents bought the place in 1982.

And since then, the owners have capitalized on the burger joint's roots, keeping tried-and-true favorites on the menu while expanding entertainment to include weekly live music, as well as classic cars and motorcycle shows.

"With today's world, you have to keep up with the big boys and offer more items," Musser said. "But we wanted to keep the original appeal."

Musser is quick to share stories of numerous patrons claiming the last time they had a Biff burger was a quarter century ago. He also said they taste something more than a beef patty once they get their hands on a Biff burger.

"I think a lot of people want to remember the good times and obviously it was a good time in America when Biff's started," he said. "America was going strong; Chevy and Ford were going strong; and now all those things are struggling now."


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