The iconic Big Chief Drive-In Restaurant, located at 5001 Dufferin Avenue just outside of Wallaceburg, has been sold.
Long-time owner Brian Hoffman has officially handed over the keys to the business to Port Lambton resident Erin Bogaert, who was born and raised in Wallaceburg.
Dana Haggith caught up with Bogaert for an interview.
Hoffman posted on social media “it’s been one heck of a ride over these past 24 years” owning the business.
“I won’t lie to you, it’s going to be an emotional departure,” Hoffman said.
“I can’t express enough how much gratitude I have for the customers who have supported the restaurant over all these years. I also can’t express how much I’m going to miss this team as well as all the misfits who have worked here over the years. We spend a lot of time together here and I’ve been extremely fortunate to have some amazing people work here.”
Hoffman said it’s going to be “an odd feeling viewing things from the other side of the counter.
“But, it’s time for me to start having a life. I’ll also be saying goodbye to this part of the province as we’ll be moving back up North. Wallaceburg has been home for me for over half my life,” he said.
Hoffman said he received great advice from the original owners, after taking over the business in 1996.
“I also have to offer a sincere thanks to Charlie and Nelly DeCaesteker,” he said.
“Charlie’s Dad started this place up in 1957, passed it unto Charlie and then I came along in 1996. Both Charlie and Nelly gave me some great advice and got me started off on the right foot.”
Hoffman said he believes the business is in the right hands.
“(Erin Bogaert) strolled in one day last September wanting to talk about buying The Chief,” Hoffman said.
“I usually never had time for that but, for once, I thought, what the heck. I knew almost at once I was talking to the next owner. She was as ready for a change as much as I was. Everyone’s been asking if it’s going to be the same. I can say with confidence that the spirit and essence of The Chief will carry on. Nothing to worry about there. She’s eager, excited and has my full endorsement.”
Hoffman said he will always refer to himself as ‘The Burger Flipper’.
“As I leave you, my name is Brian and I’m going to be the guy who used to own the coolest little burger shack in Southwestern Ontario,” he said.
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