Biff Burger closed last week due to flies

Biff Burger 2
Flies landed the iconic restaurant in hot water.

There’s been a decent amount of buzz over the weekend about St. Petersburg’s iconic Biff-Burger on 49th St. North after someone spotted a notice on the door that the business closed.

The restaurant closed Feb. 20 and reopened the next day, according to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The iconic restaurant was temporarily shut down due to flies in the kitchen prep and bar area, but was allowed to reopen the next day.

The restaurant was also dinged for grease build-up, an employee not wearing a hairnet and a food warmer not functioning properly, according to DBPR.

The notice from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation was dated Feb. 19 and noted the business was closed “to protect public health and safety.”

The bright orange notice indicated that the restaurant, known for its 50s diner feel, “must be inspected and approved by the division of hotels and restaurants in order to operate as a public lodging or food service establishment.”

A scroll through Facebook showed a host of concerns from people who had either seen or heard of the notification.

What’s going on with Biff Burger on 49th St. in St. Pete? The place is part of history,” Facebook user Sue Bergeron posted to ABC Action News.

Ken Keller, a musician scheduled to perform at Biff-Burger, which often features live local bands, posted in all caps that his Feb. 19 gig, the same date the notice was posted, was canceled due to a gas leak.

Several posts over the past few months have indicated the business has gone “downhill.”

“Food went downhill last time we were there food was nasty,” wrote one user.

The business has been in trouble for some time.

Former owners George and Sandra Musser sued for foreclosure on the property and restaurant in late 2018 because the new owners were defaulting on payments.

The historic burger and barbecue spot opened in 1960 as part of a pretty large chain that later disintegrated after Burger King bought most of the franchises. The Musser’s kept their Biff-Burger, which is an acronym for “best in fast food,” and it has been a staple of the hot rod and classic car community for decades. On Friday nights, proud car owners line up with their supped up Ford Mustangs and old school Chevy Camaros, among others.

The aging couple sold the business in 2015 to Raphael Prezioso and his family for an undisclosed sum. Since then, the 2018 foreclosure lawsuit alleged the family had missed payments on the $600,000 mortgage for which the Musser’s still held the note as of that filing. Prezioso still controlled the restaurant as of 2019, according to Sunbiz.

Biff Burger isn’t just known for its Friday night classic car get-togethers. The restaurant also hosts popular bike nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s also famous for its hearty burgers with a well-guarded secret sauce recipe consisting of ketchup and several other spices.

The drive-in and restaurant also serve barbecue and sundaes and milkshakes, making it a popular spot for families as well. It’s one of a handful of historic restaurants still operating in Tampa Bay.

And don’t forget about its famous Tater Tots.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • Jon Upton

    February 25, 2020 at 7:13 am

    It was more than flies. I saw the health report. Bags of bread had been eaten through and rat droppings just to name a few.

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