The Roanoke Times
July 17, 2012
By: Jordan Fifer
The founder of Kenney Burger Drive-Ins, a longtime fast-food chain in Southwest Virginia, died Monday.
William "Bill" Kenney Sr. was 91. He died in his sleep overnight Sunday after having cardiac problems, said his son, Bill Kenney Jr.
Kenney Sr. is credited with creating a phenomenon that launched a generation of fast-food-loving diners in the Roanoke Valley and Western Virginia.
Kenney opened a Biff Burger Drive-In in 1958 on Williamson Road in Roanoke -- one of the first fast-food restaurants to be established in the area. He went on to open several Biff Burgers in the region in the late '50s and early '60s.
In 1962, the Biff Burger restaurants in Southwest Virginia became known as Kenney Burger Drive-Ins, simply referred to as Kenney's. The burgers were known for their secret sauce that kept customers coming back.
Most of the Kenney's locations closed by the early 1980s, but Kenney continued operating other businesses. An entrepreneur at heart, Kenney operated several other restaurants in the Roanoke Valley. He established a dozen convenience stores in Roanoke and 19 more throughout Virginia.
In his later years, Kenney was active with the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. In a 2009 Roanoke Times story, Kenney estimated he'd raised more than $100,000 for Habitat by bottling and selling the sauce that made his burgers so famous.
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