60-Year-Old Texas Eatery Closes

Medium-sized image unavailable for this photo.
The Beef Burger Barrel was once part of the roadside
architecture of Route 66.

Credit: http://www.agilitynut.com/vessels/7.htm

A barrel-shaped restaurant that first opened in 1937 on Route 66 in Amarillo, Tex., may have reached the end of the road.

Beloved for its hamburgers and chicken-fried steak sandwiches, the Beef Burger Barrel closed on Feb. 3.

"It is a landmark," says Beth Duke, the executive director of Center City of Amarillo, the city's downtown revitalization group. "Our hope is that it will reopen. It's just an iconic building."

Owner Bill Fischer, whose father-in-law, F.E. Waller, bought the barrel-shaped building in 1947, said high energy bills, food prices, and competition from fast-food eateries forced him to close the restaurant.

Originally an A&W Root Beer drive-in, the building was moved several times.

Fischer wants to repair or replace some equipment and possibly repair the neon sign before he reopens-improvements that will cost less than $10,000, says Wes Reeves, president of Amarillo Historical Preservation Foundation.

"We're going to talk to him about some low-interest loans and possibly some marketing support," Reeves says. But the barrel's location, "off the beaten path," he says, makes it hard to run a profitable burger joint. "We're not a real pedestrian-friendly town." 

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