Bucky’s Drive In closes after long run

Building’s owner hasn’t determined future use of site near Centennial Park

December 19, 2007


'Bucky's' now a thing of the past

'Bucky's Drive In' is closed, ending an evolving run of 'Buckaroo' burgers, fries and soft-serve ice cream popular for decades at the edge of Centennial Park. Enlarge video

Decades after opening as a restaurant serving burgers to walk-up customers, Bucky's Drive In is closed.

Duane Buck - who turned a Sandy's restaurant into his own Bucky's, then sold the place nearly four years ago after 40 years behind the counter - didn't quite believe it until he saw the stark "CLOSED" sign for himself on the message board at 2120 W. Ninth St.

He'd driven in his pickup down from his home north of town, turning onto Ninth Street and facing the sad news through the windshield.

"It's a lot of history going," he recalls thinking. "It was a good business for me. It treated me good for 40 years. I just hate to see it close."

The restaurant has been something of a Lawrence institution for decades, opening in 1959 as Sandy's at the edge of Centennial Park, before McDonald's had come to town. Buck started work there in 1966, turned it into Bucky's by 1975 and still remembers the restaurant license bearing the number 12, attesting to its early approval and continued operations.

He sold the operation in early 2004 to Craig Miller, and then retired from making his signature Buckaroo burgers, serving up fries and waiting on customers using a drive-through window that hadn't opened until the 1980s, much later than those of his competitors - some of which would survive, but many others that would not.

"For 40 years, they kept building more restaurants, and it'd take away more of our business, and we'd promote a little more and do a little more, and it came back," said Buck, who at one point had 42 employees. "For 40 years it treated me real well, and the people of Lawrence supported it real well."

Miller, for his part, said Tuesday that he couldn't say much about the restaurant's fate other than confirm that the place wouldn't be open at any point this week.

Beyond that he wouldn't say, despite a sign in a window offering "Thanks to the community for the many years of support," and wishing happy holidays to all.

"We are closed at this time," Miller said.

A representative for Fayman Investment Co., which owns the building, confirmed Tuesday that the company had been informed Monday that Bucky's had closed.

The investment company has not yet formulated a plan for the property's future because, the representative said, "We're just 24 hours into this."

Miller has had the business up for sale for about a year but apparently found no takers, Buck said.

Buck had sold Miller the restaurant for "three times earnings," giving the new operator a chance to "make a go of it," Buck said.

But, like the sign now says, Bucky's is done.

"I'll miss it," Buck said.


Michael Capra 7 years, 11 months ago

miller was a jerk and ran people out of there bring buck back and it will be great again

Richard Heckler 7 years, 11 months ago

Not enough burger/fries dollars around to support all the establishments....can we say over saturated. Face it this place did well in the face of large corporate competition so Buck must have been good to his customers.

Hats off to Mr. Buck.

Woodduck_5363 7 years, 11 months ago

I loved it when it was Sandy's in the 60's. My favorite meal was a fish sandwich, fries and a strawberry shake. Now talk about something Good!!! I tryed Buckey's but the food and service really needed improvement, well I see they didn't comply. Good riddens to bad food.

Oracle_of_Rhode 7 years, 11 months ago

I hope they make this a Local Burger, catering to the Merc crowd.

KLATTU 7 years, 11 months ago

I'd been happily choosing Bucky's over national fast food burger chains since I moved to Lawrence 20 years ago, but stopped going there just in this last year. I agree with the above posts; the new owner was a jerk, and obviously hated working there.

otto 7 years, 11 months ago

Last time I was there the catsup and the mustard were in and labeled in the wrong dispensers. The place was also dirty. It's the little things.

Bladerunner 7 years, 11 months ago

I used to take my family to eat there all the time. I agree with previous posts. The new owner ran us off as well. Good bye Bucky's. We will miss you.

Bone777 7 years, 11 months ago

Twist cones, milkshakes and fries all used to be good.

blackwalnut 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm sorry to hear this. Their burgers and shakes were great and the funky ambiance was appealing. Really, though, it didn't seem very clean, and I think that's what did them in.

Toto_the_great 7 years, 11 months ago

My dad loved Bucky's. My brother and I... not so much. Vista on the other hand... good stuff. Is the one in Manhatten still open? On our annual treks out west, we always stopped a Vista. Now there is Johnny's. Bring back the 7:00 a.m. Johnny's!

thomgreen 7 years, 11 months ago

I used to love going to Bucky's, that is until I got served a burger that wasn't cooked all the way. They offered to replace it, which was fine, but something about getting undercooked food from establishment tends to sour me for future visits. It's sad to lose a historical type business, but I agree, it might be a good place for Local Burger to move to.

trinity 7 years, 11 months ago

i hadn't eaten a bucky burger since this latest owner took over-but sure did love the place 5+years ago. would always take the kids there when they had bowling tournaments in lawrence, also while i was going to KU would venture there now&then.

i wish we had braum's joints around here, mmm mmm MMM love me some braums!

justtired 7 years, 11 months ago

the quality of the meat dropped and the prices went up. i haven't been there since the owner told my daughter and her friends to behave when they walked in the door before they had even ordered.

ControlFreak 7 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe that place lasted as long as it did. When I worked there in the 90's while I was in high school, we were not allowed to use soap to wash the dishes.

It was nasty and dirty all the time. Thank about that for a minute, this was back in the 90's before Mr. Buck sold the place.

ControlFreak 7 years, 11 months ago

Should say "think about that" not "thank about that" sorry.

Hilary Morton 7 years, 11 months ago

R.I.P. Bucky's. This loss saddens me today. We had some good times, together, ice cream swirl. Remember the laughter, Buckaroo? I'll never forget it. I always anticipated the arrival of chili every season. How I long for 1986, when all was right with the world, and we walked hand in hand in the park, whilst I whispered sweet nothings into your ear, brown bag special. You will always live on in my heart.

love, hilary and the morton family

GSWtotheheart 7 years, 11 months ago

I think there is a Vista burger joint in Topeka still's on Wanamaker

BullSmitty 7 years, 11 months ago

Local Burger, Braum's, whoever decides to go in there, keep the building architecture as is. It's a piece of Lawrence history.

Oh and by the way, the thing that really did the place in wasn't the dirty appearance or the mean owner, no folks, it was.......the smoking ban! ;)

SoupBone 7 years, 11 months ago

Three times earnings is a good price for a business like that?

Well...maybe if three times earnings comes up to less than the total asset value because the earnings were pretty low.

But in general, I'd say three times earnings for a business like that is certainly no great bargain. It's average. If the business was already on the decline, it's high.

nobody1793 7 years, 11 months ago

I used to like Bucky's, but I kind of stopped going there after Shhhpangles opend up. $2.99?!?!

AnglNSpurs 7 years, 11 months ago

Vista Burger is still open in Manhattan, one in the mall and one on Tuttle Creek. Was there not too long ago and had me a Vista Burger... good stuff. I agree with an earlier post, National Chains are not the same as the local guys.

I hadnt ate a Buckys since I was a little girl... my mom took us there and then to play at the park when we lived on that side of town. Sad to see it go.

kansasfire911 7 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't it called Scotty's at one point and had the Great Scott burger? My dad told me stories of him and his brother working there while in college, thats to bad it had to close.

Buggie 7 years, 11 months ago

I used to work at Buckys when I was a teenager then when I was in my first apt. My late father and Duane have been friends for years. Duane and Buckys taught me resposibility and patronage. The food was great and Duane was genuine to all his customers. I ate there twice when the new owner came in and the food had gone down hill drastically and he needed to have Duanes Burger specials. However I just want to thank Duane and Buckys for the education as a child that helped me go to college and become an adult. Buckys will be missed

Bone777 7 years, 11 months ago

Sincair's Gas (closed), Bucky's (closed), Villiage Inn (closed) Nothing makes it on that corner.

Alison Roberts 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree with the local burger eye rolling in the earlier post.

they are a little too pricey for me.

And spangles sucks.. they can take their crappy commercials and go away. That evil Renee Stevens shudder.

cellogrl 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree with the above posts in that the food wasn't good after the new owner took over.

As for Vista Burger in Topeka, I think that it closed not too long ago. I was quite saddened by that because I grew up in Topeka and had fond memories of Vista. :(

coolmarv 7 years, 11 months ago

I ate there a lot in the 80's as a youngster. Food was good. Double Buckaroo or the giant Pork Tenderloin were my favorites. Had to give it up for a healthier diet though. I remember coming to town for swim lessons as a kid and then stopping by for an ice cream cone. It was a great treat for us. It was Sandy's then. I remember getting a drink in a Hardees cup from there one time. I think Sandy's turned into Hardees maybe, but don't remember Hardees being there. How about Burger Chef or Henry's? Remember those? That was a long time ago.

coldsplice 7 years, 11 months ago

my best friend and i grew up going there a couple times a week for a roast beef and a twist cone. a couple years ago i took my two kids there to give it a go and they loved it as well. don't know about the latest owner but it will be missed by me.

lazz 7 years, 11 months ago

So what's the longest running restaurant in Lawrence now? Maybe The Wheel. Or Johnny's?

Outside of bars, here's a thought --- could it actually now be Border Bandido???

Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 11 months ago

GSWtotheheart wrote "I think there is a Vista burger joint in Topeka still :it's on Wanamaker".

Not any more. It changed hands this year and has a new name, branding, etc.

kansasbrandon 7 years, 11 months ago

Local Burger = dry meat that tastes like shoe leather and fries that taste like glue and no diet coke to wash it down with! Terrible!

coolmarv 7 years, 11 months ago

lazz (Anonymous) says:

So what's the longest running restaurant in Lawrence now? Maybe The Wheel. Or Johnny's?

Outside of bars, here's a thought could it actually now be Border Bandido???

How long has Royal Peking been around? Pizza Hut downtown? Dairy Queen on Mass?

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

I ate there all the time until the new owner changed the pork tenderloin. It made no sense to me. I loved the old sandwich, and so did a lot of other people in Lawrence. I knew when they changed that the end wasn't far in the future. Bucky's will be missed...but honestly the good Bucky's has been gone since the old owner sold the place.

walkdog262 7 years, 11 months ago

I quit going there when they got rid of the horseradish sauce that was next to the ketchup dispenser, which was just one of the many problems that popped up. The new owners were terrible! I loved the old place though and went there all the time. This is sad news, but I can't say I'm surprised.

coolmarv 7 years, 11 months ago

This is from an article in May 2004 in the LJW.

According to a comparison of a 1974 phone directory and 2004 phone directory, there are just nine restaurants besides Taco John's that continue to operate in the same location and under the same name as they did 30 years ago. They are: ¢ Dairy Queen Brazier, 1835 Mass. ¢ Don's Steak House, 2176 E. 23rd St. ¢ El Matador Cafe, 446 Locust St. ¢ Kentucky Fried Chicken, 658 W. 23rd St. ¢ La Tropicana, 434 Locust St. ¢ Johnny's Tavern, 401 N. Second St. ¢ Mass Street Deli, 941 Mass. ¢ McDonald's, 901 W. 23rd St. ¢ Royal Peking, 711 W. 23rd St.

D_Puddy 7 years, 11 months ago

It's really too bad to see Bucky's close. I know Mr. Miller very well from his previous job, and he truly wanted to keep Bucky's going in Lawrence. It took a lot of guts for him to take on a local burger joint that was struggling while competing against the fast food giants. I wish him well.

mrjcg2 7 years, 11 months ago

If you're ever in Topeka and want a good burger (and great apple pie) try Bobo's..

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 11 months ago

I ate at Bucky's two or three times in my 3 years at KU. I liked their fries, but the portions were very small. I also liked the burger I had there. It reminded me of a cheap knock-off on a Braums burger.

As for Braums coming up to Lawrence I don't see that happening, but if Lawrence had had a Braums while I was around I'd be fat right now. Now Houston doesn't have Braums either, but you can bet I'll be eating Braums when I travel home for Christmas

TriSigmaKS 7 years, 11 months ago

My husband and I went there once since we moved back to Lawrence and yuck. We decided we would never go back. The pork tenderloin sandwich was so gross and the fries were so greasy. ugh. Sorry it's gone, but yuck on the food.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 11 months ago

The burgers at Dairy Queen on Mass are disgusting. The meat is stringy and there was a bright blue globule in the middle of my burger looked like a little paint ball. They need to change their meat supplier. The turkey burger at Local Burger is fantastic. Yes, it's more expensive than McDonald's but I'll gladly pay extra for good quality meat.

dajudge 7 years, 11 months ago

I remember Mooreburgers. They were the best with the grease running down my chin. Yum. And the first place I ever had breaded, fried mushrooms and cauliflower. Great. Bring that back.

BikerGrandma 7 years, 11 months ago

We liked Bucky's until the new owner took over. Then service and the food quality went downhill rapidly. The kids hired had no interest in good customer service and the eating area was not serviced well.

EXks 7 years, 11 months ago

Marion, I forgot about Vista burger! My mom used to take us there when we were kids.....mmmmmm, great burgers, great fries, great memories!

conservativepunker 7 years, 11 months ago

I loved Bucky's...until Miller. I'll miss it, as I miss Vista. Another Larry instituition bites the dust, once for sealing Lawrence's fate as "Overland Park West"

simplykristib 7 years, 11 months ago

Didn't Mass Street Deli recently close? If so, that's a travesty. :( I got introduced to Mass Street Deli when I was going to KU. I don't think that I ever tried Bucky's.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm shocked. That was the last good burger in town. For crying out loud. I went there anytime I was in that corner of town. I just don't get it. First, Paradise Cafe, now this. I may as well start looking for a place to live in O.P.

How does someone fail at such a thriving business?

Tom McCune 7 years, 11 months ago

Vista Burger ruled....

Chocolate chip + cherry malts were unequaled anywhere...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

Will someone competent please buy it before I have a meltdown?! I'm in beef fat withdrawal already.

Someone needs to give this "Miller" a good wedgie. Pull him up three or four feet off the floor!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

Are there anymore independent non-hippie burger places in Lawrence? There is Hayes, but they don't look like they are doing well in that poor location they chose.

Oddly enough (not joking), I was considering a opening an independent burger joint in town a couple of years ago. Now, things are going in a different direction for me, so that idea is gone.

Kontum1972 7 years, 11 months ago

did anyone chk to see if Hack,Johnson, Corliss, Cheney/Rove didnt have a hand in the closing?

Topside 7 years, 11 months ago

Complete BS!!! They made the best banana shakes/malts ever. it really is a sad day. oh well, lets all go to BK.

dirkleisure 7 years, 11 months ago

Bucky's was the only place left to get a fast burger that wasn't some major chain copycat.

Topeka rules when it comes to places like this. The Pad, Bobo's, Horizon. Good grease burgers.

Remember the Daylight Donuts downtown? They had the best burgers I've ever tasted. A fast, quality, greasy burger is a thing of beauty, and is something Lawrence totally lacks.

shockchalk 7 years, 11 months ago

I was in Manhattan a few months ago and had a burger and fries at the Vista burger on Tuttle Rd. and it was terrible.

justthefacts 7 years, 11 months ago

I moved to Lawrence in 1984. Having been advised by locals to do so, I tried Bucky's (and Vista) right away. It was gross. I'm not a picky eater by any means. But carboard covered with fat, limp pickles and 3rd grade condiments did not impress me (or my 6 year old child)! I have NEVER understood how Bucky's (or Vista) stayed in business as long as they did. I guess it just goes to show that some people will really eat anything if it's cheap enough!

justthefacts 7 years, 11 months ago

And to compare Bobo's in Topeka with a Bucky burger....??? Not even in the same ball park!

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't believe I ate there since...the '70s!? Gawd, I'm old. I remember the pork tenderloin being pretty good back then. Or do I just think I remember that? No matter.

I remember burning weed in Bucky's parking lot during a Radio, TV & Film class (Good old Doc Dale Gadd, gawd rest his genius soul.) picnic in the park. I remember this dude saying my ganga was no good and that Johnson County kids were supposed to have the good stuff. Poor baby.

Professor Gadd challenged us to try and beat him in chess...said if he couldn't beat us in 1 or 2 minutes, then he'd concede. Sorry I declined to play you a regular game after beating you, Dale. You would have crushed me like a bug!

Ah, the random Bucky's associated memories..." Like the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories Of the way we were Scattered pictures, Of the smiles we left behind Smiles we gave to one another For the way we were Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again Tell me, would we? could we? Memries, may be beautiful and yet Whats too painful to remember We simply choose to forget So its the laughter We will remember Whenever we remember... The way we were... The way we were..." -BS

Tom McCune 7 years, 11 months ago

Like lots of places, Vista went downhill in its last few years. But during the 70's it was the best.

lelly 7 years, 11 months ago


I agree.

Runza does have the best burgers in town and their onion rings are yumm-o!

whitster 7 years, 11 months ago

I worked at Buckys about 4 years ago, right after Craig Miller took over. Here is what I have to say...the food wasn't bad when I worked there. But over time, Craig just got cheaper and cheaper, and was cutting out the essentials. No kids liked to come in, because he was such a jerk before they even did anything. Buckys was a hangout for everyone at West on early release Wednesdays. Surprisingly, it made them alot of money. Shortly after Craig Millers arrival, it all went to crap, and no kids went there anymore. He is rude to everyone that comes in his store. He never gives anyone the time of have to be nice to the customers...he never understood that. Thank god he took out his hair plugs...its just too bad it didnt make much of a difference. Pompous prick if you ask me. Sad to see Bucky's go, and sad that it's Millers fault. I hope he reads this...and recognizes who I am...enjoy bankruptcy. Merry Christmas

muswiz 7 years, 11 months ago

I want a Braum's up here, too, but unless they build a farm/plant up here in Kansas, they can't come further north than Emporia or Salina, because of the 12-hour roundtrip time limit on their trucks coming to and from the farm/plant in Tuttle, OK. I know the owners and our family has hinted for years for them to build one in Kansas City or Topeka or even Lawrence. You'd think with the Kansas origins of the company, they'd try to put more up here. But it's still a no go for now.

pomegranate 7 years, 11 months ago

Bobo's in Topeka is not that great-not the apple pie, either. Vista on Wanamaker in Topeka is now Freddy's. Not bad but the fries are those skinny little shoestrings. Runza has good burgers and sandwiches. Runza and Wendy's chili are the best. KFC doesn't have that good greasy chicken anymore. Spangle's burgers are good, inexpensive, and they have the best kid toys.Longhorn has GREAT salmon. Marisco's has the best steak. Don's steak house is useless.

another_concerned_parent 7 years, 11 months ago

There is a Vista in the Westridge Mall in Topeka.

I do not know Craig Miller personally, but he really did not have a good business sense about him. He made too many changes to the menu items and he did not convey good customer service, so why should his employees? I do not think that it is right for anyone to tell someone to behave before they demostrate the ability to misbehave. I am sure though, he just did it since it was a group of kids. He probably has had bad experiences with the kids in the area. Bucky's will be truly missed. Duane Buck is a good man and did an awesome job at running the place.

TongieMom 7 years, 11 months ago

I ate there about a year ago and the food was HORRIBLE and the service was even worse. Unfortunately, I never ate there before it changed hands.

Looking for an 'old school' wonderful burger....try the Burger Box in Tonganoxie (little white building next to Casey's)....try the fatboy and you will not be disappointed! Add a side of mushrooms or rings....heaven!


geniusmannumber1 7 years, 11 months ago

Johnny's. Best burgers in town. Period.
(Don't know about the JoCo Johnny's spinoffs, though).

Clickker 7 years, 11 months ago

Buckys was the true LHS hangout in the late 70's early 80's. Buck may have been a decent bidnessman, but he wasnt the friendliest guy in the world either. The new guy was just as bad however. I agree Culvers , Runza, Spangladesh...all pretty good burgers

reason 7 years, 11 months ago

does anyone remember the pizza restaurant on 6th I think it was where the Cadilac Ranch is--about 30-35 years ago? And what about the pizza place on 23rd then was before The Green Pepper-you used to be able to watch old movies there? Also someone asked about the bbq place on 6th and maine that was G's BBQ

Clickker 7 years, 11 months ago

Of course, back in the day, you would have to include Sandys, Moore burger, Griffs, Burger Chef, the old A&W, in any conversation about classic greasy burgers. Sad that now all are gone

D_Puddy 7 years, 11 months ago

whitster - No need to kick a man when he's down. You may not have liked Craig Miller, but he's a good person, and I have never found him to be mean-spirited, in fact, quite the opposite. I doubt if anyone would want their business to be a jr. high hangout, or a high school hangout.

Culvers for the best burger in Lawrence. Westport Fleamarket if you feel like driving to KC.

zettapixel 7 years, 11 months ago

OK let's get right down to business when it comes to burgers. This town needs a Whataburger!

Rob Zerwekh 7 years, 11 months ago

I liked the old A&W -- wasn't it in the Vista building on 6th St. at one point? We used to get cyclones at Bucky's; they were pretty much like the Dairy Queen blizzards, but not as expensive. Considering how hard it is to see from Iowa Street, I'm surprised Bucky's didn't close earlier.

lazz 7 years, 11 months ago

any discussion of great burgers in lawrence MUST include The Wheel.

As for our hopes and dreams for burgers future ... how 'bout an In 'n' Out Burger??? mmmmmmm

geniusmannumber1 7 years, 11 months ago

In and Out is my all time favorite, but it's still family owned, and the family won't open a franchise outside of the Pacific Time Zone. There was an article I read a few years ago about how there was some sort of familial strife that may change the way the business is run. This may be the one I was thinking of...

Yeah, hit me with that double double.

GretchenJP 7 years, 11 months ago

NOOOOOOOO!!! NOT BUCKY'S!!!!!!!! SAY IT ISN'T SO!!! Sad sad day. Bucky's had THE BEST ice cream and greasy burgers. While all the other fast food restaurants were trying to go healthy (please), Bucky's stayed true to the brown bag with the grease spot!!! Ahhhh... now that's REAL food. I remember Duane Buck well, he's a great guy. His daughter used to babysit me. My mom would take me to Bucky's all the time, many fond memories. I wish I had the money to buy it and bring it back. Rest In Peace Bucky's, you will be missed. :o(

lunacydetector 7 years, 11 months ago

i vaguely remember sandy's jingle....."sandy's come if you are, sandy's come if you are, duddududduduhduhdu" i can't remember the rest. it was to the tune of that rubber tree plant song called 'high hopes.'

i remember some weird "stuff" sometimes.

trinity 7 years, 11 months ago

hey muswiz-thanks for the education about braum's! i never realized the reason there wasn't one of their stores closer. pittsburg or emporia is as close as i can get to one.

there is still a free-standing old a&w in iola, folks! and it is absolutely wonderful! those mall/chain type ones just suck, plain&simple. i'll travel to iola to eat at a&w and enjoy a big ol' frosty mug of root beer float! mmmmmmmm. only 30 minutes away woohoo....

PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock 7 years, 11 months ago

I never tried Bucky's after the new owner took over, but I remember eating there when I lived in Lawrence. The burgers weren't the best but they had that "different" from the fast food burger that made them special - and the tenderloins were great. As far as where to go for the best burger, I gotta go with Fudruckers in Omaha - yummy yummy yummy!!

Fatty_McButterpants 7 years, 11 months ago

Craig ran that place out of business. He thought he would come in and revolutionize the place w/his slick-arse "old chicago" ways, but he just ran the place out of business.

Joe Hyde 7 years, 11 months ago

Deluxe Drive-In, Moore Burgers, A&W, Griff's, Sandy's, Bucky's, Vista, Quickies...only the good die young.

sweetmliss68 7 years, 11 months ago

Bucky's was what it was, a teen afternoon hang out. If Mr. Miller didn't want to own a business like that, he shouldn't have purchased it. The kids at West loved Bucky's. Depsite the fact that Miller was constantly surly and rude to them, they still went in there everyday and spent their hard earned money. I'm with the others who say bring in Braums! Can't go wrong with them.

gueraporfuera 7 years, 11 months ago

The Vista in Topeka is closed. I grew up in Manhattan a couple blocks from Vista. I was home this weekend and that one is still opened. I live in Lawrence but go to Washburn Law and was CRUSHED on my first day of classes to see that the Topeka location was gone. It was the only thing I liked about Topeka :(

GretchenJP 7 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone remember a hamburger place on 6th street where Jonny I's is now? It was a white building and they had the best kid's meals in the styrofoam containers... it was like Burger Queen or Burger Prince or something. No, not Burger King and not Dairy Queen.

Sparko 7 years, 11 months ago

Heck, I remember Griff's with the weird hand-puppet character --I think on 23rd Street. It is odd how novel fast-food was at that time. Even with 10 hamburgers for a dollar, it was exciting to go out. I also liked Sandy's Fish sandwiches and strawberry shakes, though Henry's was my favorite. An icon passes gracelessly into memory. . .

justtired 7 years, 11 months ago

cheeseburger--we had only opened the door, we hadn't even walked to the counter.dont judge

lazz 7 years, 11 months ago

GretchenJP, you mean on Iowa St. where johnny I's is now (not 6th), and i think it was Burger Chef. there also was Henry's on 6th, I think at Maine, where TJ's or BK Lounge is. There was also an Arthur Treacher's there. I definitely recall that Arthur Treachers fish and chips was in an Olde England fake tudor thing where the TJ's is now. Henry's must have been next door. Any of you old(er) timers remember for sure? henry's served some excellent burgers!

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

Changing the pork tenderloin was what killed Buckys.

GretchenJP 7 years, 11 months ago

lazz (Anonymous) says:

"GretchenJP, you mean on Iowa St. where johnny I's is now (not 6th), and i think it was Burger Chef."

Yeah, Iowa Street DUH! And that was it, Burger Chef!! Oh my god, my parents took me there all the time for the kid's meal. The other half of the time we went to Bob's Big Boy.

black_butterfly 7 years, 11 months ago

Well I am surprised to see so much support for Bucky's. Things must have really improved there. When I was a KU student back in the 80's, Bucky's was the nastiest place in town to eat. The food was gross and the restaraunt was not kept clean. Former workers said that if you could see what goes on behind the scene you would NOT eat there. Also I heard that they have bad inspection reports. Well I guess things had improved, but bottom line is, if it had been that good it wouldn't have had to go out of business. The best thing was the coupons for free ice crem cones that they gave to kids.

cms 7 years, 11 months ago

My favorite Bucky's memory was running into the restaurant late on the evening of my wedding, mid 70s, with my new husband. We were decked out in full wedding gown and tux and needed a bite to eat after a long evening. Everyone was so nice and cheerful wishing us well!

Nikki May 7 years, 11 months ago

ControlFreak, I worked at bucky's in the 90's and we used soap. Duane could be cheap, but not that cheap. It was always clean when I worked there too. Anyway, working there was fun most of the time and we did get lots of kids, and usually it was fine. I'll miss running over for a quick shake and grilled cheese at lunch. The only time I miss eating hamburgers is when I think of old school buckys.

baby_girl 7 years, 11 months ago

hmmm...the best burger? chicken? anyone think about Jefferson's on Mass?? wow. their fries are awesome, their chicken is great. love the location and it's an interesting place to go. Seriously, if you're ever downtown, stop in at Jefferson's.

The only thing i liked about Bucky's was the fact I could walk with my niece and nephews up to the park and have a great ice cream cone or dish in the park with them on a hot summer's day.

moosejeffries 7 years, 11 months ago

I was born in 1960 burger chef was there where johnny I's is I belonged to the birthday club there and you get a free kids meal. The Big Boys was two doors to the north I also remember where the Griffs Burger Bar is where the coffee shop is and Henrys Hamburger where Burger King is now and Arthur Treachers fish and chips was next door to Henrys. I sure miss the good old days. LOL

Sharon Aikins 7 years, 11 months ago

Giving away my age here but the site of the LJS at 6th and Maine opened circa 1967 as Alfie's. Our across the hall neighbors from London were ecstatic about having fish and chips here and introduced small town Kansas kids to the concept of malt vinegar on fish. Talk about greasy fries!

And we used to take our kids to Buckys on the weekend rides for ice cream. Better and cheaper than that other place noted for its ice cream. Hey, even the occasional greasy burger and fries and I've lived to tell about it.

coneflower 7 years, 11 months ago

I hope another owner will make a go of this place. And I hope it's not a chain restaurant of any kind.

StanKan 7 years, 11 months ago

For OldEnuf2BYurDad and others that are critical of Craig Miller and his business ... you obviously don't know Craig Miller.

I know Mr. Miller personally and have worked with him for several years at another restaurant while I was in school at KU. He is a great family man and nobody is more passionate about taking care of the customer than he.

Do you think the original owner sold the "thriving business" because it was thriving or because it is very difficult to make it as a local burger joint competing against the big box burger joints? In all seriousness, how can you compete with a McDonald's $1 menu? When Mr. Miller goes to buy a case of burgers what do you think his cost is compared to that of "over x billion served?"

I think we are all sad to see Bucky's gone, nobody more so than Mr. Miller. It goes to show that restaurants are a low profit margin business that is very tough to do if you are independently owned, take a look around.

Don't fault Mr. Miller, he gave it his best.

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

Why did he change the pork tenderloin??? I don't know Mr. Miller, but that was maybe the dumbest decision since the "New Coke".

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

Why did he change the pork tenderloin? Worst marketing decision since Coke tried to promote that New Coke stuff in the early 1980's!

melz 7 years, 11 months ago

I know Craig Miller personally and he is a great guy with a very positive attitude. He has and always will be a hard worker. When any company changes owners there are changes and hardships that come along with it. You people are harsh, how many of you know what it's like to run a company? Or run Bucky's for that matter? I've lived in Lawrence for over 14 years and I went to Bucky's before and after it changed hands, nothing had seemed to change to me. So before you judge someone who ran the company, step back and ask yourself if you would know how to do it!

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

I am not critical of him as a person. I just asked why he changed a popular meny item?

woxy 7 years, 11 months ago

Do you think the original owner sold the "thriving business" because it was thriving or because it is very difficult to make it as a local burger joint competing against the big box burger joints? <<<

I think the original owner sold it because he RETIRED.

Kristen Murphy 7 years, 11 months ago

OMG TongieMom! Grandpa's Burger Box is amazing!!! Best burgers so far!!!

wysiwyg69 7 years, 11 months ago

6th and maine was also a bbq for a while,, dairy queen was around where whelans is

JSDAD 7 years, 11 months ago

when bucky's was Sandys it was one of the original 6 out of 12 nationwide, it transitioned into burger chef and moved to the location on Iowa street. It had to move so you could see the flame broiler thru the big window. burger Chef then transistioned into Hardee's to compeat with the single named Mcdonalds moving to 6th and 23rd streets

Mr_Hankey 7 years, 11 months ago

As a former Buckys employee, here are some observations about Craig Miller.

  1. It finally comes to light that Miller had been attempting to sell the business for more than a year. Well when directly asked if that was the case, by both customers and employees, Craig absolutely denied it! Some employees had mortgages to pay and families to support, so they asked him for some warning as a courtesy because they couldn't afford to be without even the meager income the job provided. Miller assured them that their worries were without merit, and he personally told me that he had no plans to sell.

  2. The bulk of Craig's perceived "rudeness" towards adult customers was the result of him spending a great deal of time attempting to flirt with female customers and schmooze with acquaintances he wanted to impress. He showed no patience with children unaccompanied by an adult.

  3. He never wanted to put money into that place...Sealing the asphalt in the parking lot, some paint where needed, having the windows washed twice a week, etc. Just to fix up the place so that it looked as if someone cared about it. Instead he spent his bank loan money on things like a television for the lobby so that he could watch ESPN, an electronic lock for the safe ( that even HE admitted we didn't need, but he'd always wanted ), and a security system that seemed to regularly break down. Also, advertising. . .hardly any. Yeah, he had a few flyers out. . in the 4 years he owned it. Also, he reduced the quality of all the products just to save money and then would raise prices.

  4. He began to lose so much money that he couldn't afford to continue with his hair plug maintenance, and had to give them up. At least that kept the customers entertained, and the employees chuckling!

I hope that he thinks about how dishonest he was with us and how unethically he behaved towards us. Perhaps those are some of the reasons he was released from employment from his previous job, managing a restaurant here in Lawrence. I hope that his future employers realize his incompetence before he sinks their business also!!

coolmarv 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't think Sandy's turned into Burger Chef. I think they were both open at the same time. El Mezcal on Iowa was the Pizza Hut and Bob' (JB) Big Boy was where the hotel on Iowa is. Didn't Ken's turn into Mazzios? Where was Duck's restaruant? Anyone?

MattressMan 7 years, 11 months ago

I hear Hank has some spare time on his hands, maybe he could do something with it. :)

OK sorry, couldn't resist...

tunarubber 7 years, 11 months ago

Leave it to Lawrence to close a place with $1 hamburgers to open a place with $10 hamburgers (Local Burger), cheese extra.

sissezz 7 years, 11 months ago

used to love it when i was a kid too.......But no more burger joints, how bout a Churches or maybe a Popeyes???

Staci Dark Simpson 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree tongie mom and kstater! I live in TOngie and Burger Box is good!! OMG the best burger I have had in ages. THeir onion rings are great too. Seriously guys these burgers are good and the price is right too. I think we will be calling burger box tonight. My mouth is watering thinking about it!!!!!!

Calliope877 7 years, 11 months ago

It'd be cool if they made the place into an ice cream shop. Or maybe tear the building down and put up something different.

waxman 7 years, 11 months ago

I backed my '68 Ranchero through Sandy's plate glass window almost 40 years ago! While waiting for the police to arrive to make a report, Duane Buck, the current manager, bought me a cheeseburger!!! We have been friends ever since. Out of all the places that you were wondering about (i.e. Burger Chef where Johnny I's is, Bob's Big Boy where El Mezcal is, Moore Burger where Advanced Auto is and Henry's where Burger King on 6th is) the BEST burger that Lawrence has ever had was at Dynamite Restaurant at 23rd & Louisiana! Duane was a legend and had the greatest double cheeseburgers of all time! I ceased my patronage at Bucky's the first time I met Craig Miller. He was was a jack***!! I'll miss Duane's Bucky's a lot and all the good memories!!

....I'm going to shoot "the Square" now!

howiefelter 7 years, 11 months ago

All- some creative comments here. It's nice to look back on ol Larry Town with what would-be friends. What most, if not all, of you fail to realize is that due to the rising costs of consumer goods($500 ps3 anyone?) especially in the food business, yes I am the General Manager of a resturant business in CO, the idea of a "quality" $1 burger or "cheap" tenderloin is a thing of the past. Look, for instance, at gas prices ALONE. The food we eat at Bucky's(or did eat), the groceries we buy at the store, the supplies we provide our children for school all are going up! That coupled with corporate hunger has spelt a terrible death for what were, in this case, and are "Mom and Pops." Mr_Hankey- obviously you hold something against Mr. Miller. Possibly you should, we as readers don't know the particular circumstances of the situation except from your very biased side. However, I'm sure you still work for some other guy that doesn't pay you enough too. Mr. Miller embarked out on his own to BE HIS OWN BOSS. Novel idea, eh? Talk about the American Dream. No, you my underpaid, underacheving, drum banger for those of you who don't "get what you deserve" decide to humiliate him in the face of others. Probably were the high school bully too. Take it easy brother, you get what you deserve someday. Good luck.

thebigspoon 7 years, 11 months ago

Strawhat Pizza Palace was the original business the building was built for whereThe Ranch is now. It was also Becceros.

Jeff Goodrick 7 years, 11 months ago

Duck's was over in the middle of the parking lot between 8th and 9th on Vermont. We moved it over onto Mass. (the city thought they needed more parking downtown), then We sold it and started Happy Hal's and Jim's steakhouse outside the city limits on K 10 (which is now Haskell). The train in the park, a friend of mine's dad was the engineer on it when it ran between KC and Emporia

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the news that food prices are going up...none of us knew that. Thank goodness a restaurant manager was able to fill us in on that. The higher food prices is why Bucky's went under? Don't other restaurants face the same problem? The bottom line is the the owner changed a signature menu item and people quit coming to eat there.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 11 months ago

Leave it to Lawrence to close a place with $1 hamburgers to open a place with $10 hamburgers (Local Burger), cheese extra.

So Lawrence closed Bucky's? Who? The mayor?

Regarding Local Burger, check their online menu. Burgers aren't $10, they're $5.50.

deskboy04 7 years, 11 months ago

I remember going to Woolworth's and having a bowl of the chili! It was good, and good for you.

Taco Art's on 23rd was pretty good too.

Left_handed 7 years, 11 months ago

Burger Chef was the best, I liked it when you could get them 'without' and put all the stuff on them that you wanted.

lazz 7 years, 11 months ago

waxman mentioned the Dine-A-Mite at 23rd and Louisiana. I've sure heard a lot about it, and seen some classic photographs, but I've never been able to figure out where it was on that intersection. Waxman? Anybody? Was it where Walgreen's is, La. Purchase, Amoco/Wendy's, or Checkers?

thebigspoon 7 years, 11 months ago

Burger Chef was where Johnny I's used cars is now. I think the door handles still say Burger Chef on them.

lazz 7 years, 11 months ago

23rd St pizza joint before the Green Pepper was Shakey's

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

"Do you think the original owner sold the "thriving business" because it was thriving..."

YES, actually, I do. In a LJW interview, he said he sold it because he hadn't taken a vacation in 20 years. It took FOUR years for Bucky's to go under: something was going right that helped sustain the business for so long. I don't know Miller and don't know what kind of man he is; however, I'm confident that Bucky's was sucessful, and then something changed.

These comments about how hard it is to compete with McD's $1 menu do not fly with me. I have a nearly completed business plan - on this very computer - for a burger joint that would sell $8-9 burger meals. There are plenty of burger joints that sell pricy burgers. If your food (and your service) is good, you can charge what it costs to cover your expenses. People will pay for quality. I frequented Bucky's and never gave any thought to prices: I wasn't there for a bargain, I was there for a good burger, and I was willing to pay for it. If the price of my meal at Bucky's went up a dollar, I wouldn't have noticed it. Change the service or the food... that I'll notice.

I completely understand that this is a competitive market and that prices are going up, but I also understand that if you build a better mouse trap, you will always have customers at your door. History is full of examples of businesses that were started during recessions (and even depressions) that grew to be great companies. If you do something well, you can always make it.

Bucky's was "chicken soup for the heart-attack-waiting-to-happen soul", and it will be missed.

beagledog 7 years, 11 months ago

mr. miller is a good friend of mine. he gave his heart and soul, and all of his money and his wife's money to try and keep the restaurant open, and pay employees who stole, cheated, and lied to him. there was even an employee who milked him for over $5,000 by always clocking in early. his problem was that he put his trust in the wrong people. as the saying goes, nice guys finish last, and that's where miller finished. but he'll bounce back.

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