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Henry's Hamburgers in Benton Harbor celebrates 50 years

Andrew Norton

Aside from having the niftiest vintage neon sign I have seen in a while - Henry's Hamburgers offers an array of tasty treats served up with a smile. I dropped in a couple weeks ago on the way to take pictures of the waves at the St. Joseph Lighthouse. The basic Brown Bag Special is a double cheeseburger, fries, and a drink for $3.99. It is not merely the "Brown Bag Special" in name only - it actually came in a brown bag :). I knew the cheeseburger was going to be good when I opened the brown bag and the delicious aroma escaped. In retrospect, I wish I had bought a couple of Brown Bag Specials - it was that good. I'm going to try and head back up there while there is still color on the trees and before (hopefully) the snow flies.

This year, 2009, marks Henry's Hamburgers 50th anniversary of opening for business in Benton Harbor. I've tried finding some hard facts to support my conclusion, but without anything definite I can merely surmise that this is the last Henry's Hamburgers still in operation. While at other old Henry's Hamburgers locations the building still remains - they are no longer operating as Henry's.

From the Henry's Hamburgers website -

Henry’s Hamburgers began as a part of the Bressler’s Ice Cream Company’s efforts to get in on the drive inn business in the 1950’s. In the early 60’s, there were over 200 Henry’s (more stores than McDonalds at the time!) from coast to coast, with the operations headquarters in Chicago, IL.

Don Bishop and Harold Shook opened the Benton Harbor Henry’s in April of 1959, in the new Fairplain Plaza Shopping Center. They established a reputation for service and value, listening to their customers instead of the franchisor, which enabled them to remain in business after the Henry’s chain ceased to be a player in the 1970’s. This was strictly a carryout business until the addition of drive thru service in 1988, which now accounts for over 70% of sales.

Wayne Senecal and Dave Slavicek bought out the Bishop/Shook family in 1983, embarking on a major updating of the facility. The drive thru service system was updated in 1999. With a change of ownership in the Fairplain Plaza and an obsolete building to content with, Henry’s decided to build a new, state of the art “hamburger factory”, almost directly across the street for the original store. Dave Slavicek bought out Wayne Senecal in 2006.

If you go:

1832 M 139 Benton Harbor, MI 49022 (269) 926-6757

Open Mon-Sat 6:30am – 10:30pm