Sunday, August 23, 2009

Biff Burger

My uncle Al always had an unconventional way to make a living. When he was younger he played the trombone in swing bands. My brother said he heard that Al played with the Paul Whiteman band for a while.

Later in life he had a candy vending machine business. It must have been successful because he always drove a nice car and had plenty of toys. Of course he didn't have children so maybe he had more to spend on them.

When he was in his fifties he bought a Biff Burger franchise in Tallahassee, Florida. Most won't know what Biff Burger is but at one time, at least in Tallahassee they were giving McDonald's a run for their money with their "Roto Broiled Burger." Most places fried the burger so this was truly new and improved. The chain had been started in Clearwater, Florida in the late fifties and Al opened it in Tallahassee about 1964.

I can remember when Biff Burger and McDonald's had a price war over what they charged for a hamburger. They both charged 15 cents and one decided to raise the price. There were several price changes up and down before they called a truce.

Al bought the business and my Dad worked with him for a while. I'm pretty sure Ben and maybe Cathy worked there after school.

I was too young to legally work behind the counter but I had the best job. My Dad would dress me up in a white shirt and tie and I was Biff. I just had to stand around or wave to people who drove by on Pensacola Street. I'm not sure if my solicitations did any good but I had fun and I was usually paid in ice cream. At the time I thought it was a pretty good salary.

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