At 6:06 p.m. last night, my phone rang. It was my kid -- distraught, in real tears and as pissed off as your kid would be if Santa Claus showed up at your house dressed like Barney or, worse, a Teletubbie. "It's closed!" he wailed, in between heaves and sniffles. "My favorite burger place is closed!" he repeated because, you know, I probably missed it all the first time he howled into the blower.
His go-to burger joint, the Old School Burgers at 901 West Hampden Avenue, was dark, he said, with chairs stacked in the middle of the dining room and all the art stripped from the walls. I called the homegrown chain's second location at 3995 North Lewiston Way to check on the wattage there, but the voicemail greeting was full and not accepting new messages. In other words, that location had gone dark, too.
But it wasn't a strikeout. A third outpost at 1760 South Havana Street in Aurora is still flipping singles, doubles and triples, but when I got area manager Craig Peterson on the phone to confirm my kid's story, he seemed pretty rattled. "The other two locations closed last week -- they're completely cleaned out. It's the economy, you know?" he told me, his voice sounding defeated and trailing off. "The economy has hit us pretty hard and the other locations weren't making enough money, so...you know?"
Yeah, buddy, I do know. And while I also know that my kid couldn't have kept Old School Burgers in business with his two burger runs each week, he has a proposition for Old School president Joe Cohen: He'll pony up his saved allowance -- a respectable $79 and change -- if you reopen the Hampden location.