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Heap Big Beef

Posted by LOTGK on December 7, 2007

Heap Big Beef

A Blast From The Past

In the late 1960’s, Arby’s roast beef restaurants were springing up. In fact, the first Arby’s restaurant opened in Boardman, Ohio, my hometown, on July 23, 1964 on route 224 right across the street from St. Charles Catholic Church. (My purgatory for 8 hard years)

But we’re not talking about Arby’s this time, but a rival fast food roast beef sandwich shop named Heap Big Beef. Heap Big Beef was an Arby’s twin (I would have said clone but we’re talking 1969 here) and was trying to ride on the successful coattails of the fast food chain.

As I recall, the sandwich was good, plenty of thin sliced juicy roast beef, even if it was processed. The bun was lightly buttered and covered in sesame seeds. And the French fries, they were cooked to a golden brown, almost crunchy. I can still taste them.

One particular day, oh, I was about 8 or 9 years old and I wandered into Heap Big Beef. Yes, the restaurant was in close walking distance to my house and since my older brother Jack’s friends worked there, I walked up to the counter and asked if I could have a free order of French fries and a coke. Danny, Jack’s buddy, looked at me, smirked, and asked why should I receive free fries. I told him matter of factly that my brother would kick his ass if he didn’t.

For just a second, the restaurant went quiet. Then Danny smiled, and started laughing out loud like a wild man. The entire work force was laughing and Danny fixed up a large order of fries and a large coke. He told me to come back anytime.

That was the only time I didn’t pay.

The Heap lasted only a couple of years and the building was vacant for quite a while. I do believe a bank opened up a few years later and finally the structure was torn down.

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6 Responses to “Heap Big Beef”

  1. Chuck said

    I grew up in Marlow Heights, Maryland, a close in suburb of DC in Prince Georges County, during the 60s and 70s. In the late 60s a Heap Big Beef opened on St. Barnabas Road, at about the same time that a Red Barn restaurant opened. The roast beef sandwiches were delicious at Heap Big Beef, but as I recall the restaurant only remained open a year or two. Subsequent restaurants in that same building met the same fate while the Red Barn was there. Anyway, I’d like to know whatever happened to the Heap Big Beef. I preferred their roast beef sandwich to Arby’s and Roy’s.

  2. LOTGK said

    Heap Big Beef lost its franchise license and they all closed after a few years in business.

  3. Gail Gary said

    I used to go to a Heap Big Beef on the Boston Post Road (US 1) in Orange/Milford, CT (the two towns are right next to each other, and I’m not sure which specific town this restaurant was in) back in the late 60s. I was only about nine or ten years old back then, but it was the only fast food sandwich I’d ever liked. (I’m probably the only kid who ever disliked McDonald’s or Burger King’s hamburgers.) I remember how the place looked and smelled; the high ceilings. They had a ledge with those glare-y “keep food hot” lights. You, the customer, could reach out and touch them; they weren’t behind the order takers. The high-powered lights also made the temperature higher in the building than was usual for a fast-food place, and in the summer this could be hard to endure. The sandwiches themselves were wrapped in a branded foil wrapper, and they were very, very hot. Also messy—the roast beef didn’t stay in place when you ate, so it wasn’t a compact and neat sandwich like a hamburger, and you tended to drop strings of roast beef out of the sandwich as you ate. These features, and one other that may have significantly contributed to the demise of this chain: it took much longer to get a sandwich there than any other fast-food place. I reallllly liked their food, their fries were terrific too, but it drove my mother crazy to go there because it took 15-20 minutes or longer to get the actual order. And that’s once you placed your order—not counting the standing-in-line time.

  4. I live in Gadsden, Alabama. At the age of 15, i worked at “Heap Big Beef” for 18 months before I went to “Burger King” for 5 years. The sandwich was season to perfection. Really hate to see it go. Wish someone would start another chain here. I would eat there everyday. Wishing I had one a beef sandwich, right now. The building is still here. It was used as a family restaurant for about 25 years, called Bar-B-Q Bob’s. Another owner has it now, which he sells Bar B Q and smoked ribs. The building still looks the same outside and inside with its A frame building.

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