Steak ‘n Shakes in Springfield, Missouri, survive the latest corporate purge

The Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in Springfield, Missouri — including a very historic one on Route 66 — seem to be surviving the latest round of closures by the corporation this week.

The Springfield News-Leader reports Biglari Holdings Inc. announced it would close 57 Steak ‘n Shakes after it lost more than $138 million in the first quarter of 2020. The corporation attributed much of the loss to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newspaper checked around with local Steak ‘n Shakes. They appeared to be doing well:

With a dozen cars in the parking lot, the downtown Springfield Steak ‘n Shake reopened for brisk dine-in business Tuesday even as the restaurant’s parent company had tough news to announce.
“We’re doing well and have no plans to close,” an employee working the phones told the News-Leader during a rainy lunch rush, pausing briefly to show a colleague how to work the credit-card machine.
On North Glenstone Avenue, a staffer answering Steak ‘n Shake’s phones said she’d heard of no plans to close. The store remained offering mainly takeout service instead of dine-in, she said.
At the South Glenstone store, a worker said the store is doing mainly takeout and drive-through, with possible plans to reopen dine-in service this week or next, as Springfield “reopens” following changes to pandemic stay-at-home orders from earlier this year. […]
Local franchise owner Gary Leonard told the News-Leader in a text message, “We plan on serving the Springfield/Lebanon area steakburgers for many years to come.”
Leonard also said he’d worked in his family’s business since 1974, when he joined as a 14-year-old.
“We’ve been in business in Springfield since 1962, and my family has been involved with Steak ‘n Shake since 1939,” he said. “We feel we are a generational part of the Springfield fabric and very involved in community affairs.”

The crown jewel of Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in Springfield is the one at St. Louis Street and National Avenue that Leonard owns. The restaurant, built in 1962, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. It contains nearly all of its original features.

Leonard told us in a comment about a year ago:

The Steak n Shake’s in Springfield, Missouri area are independently franchised By me, Gary Leonard and we are doing just fine and will be open for a long time in to the future. I’ve been knocking about these restaurants for 46 years and my family for 80. Come on by and we’ll take care of you.

The Steak ‘n Shakes in Springfield might be the last men standing. The chain was in big trouble a year ago, and the current coronavirus pandemic won’t make things any easier.

Indiana-based Steak ‘n Shake, founded in 1934 by Gus Belt along U.S. 66 in Normal, Illinois, contains about 600 locations, mostly in the Midwest. Its steakburgers, milkshakes and chili mac supremes remained a favorite for quite a few folks of a certain age range, especially the late, great movie critic Roger Ebert.

Alas, the original Steak ‘n Shake in Normal was razed many years ago and replaced with a pizza parlor.

(Image of the historic Steak ‘n’ Shake restaurant along Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri, by George Thomas via Flickr)

6 thoughts on “Steak ‘n Shakes in Springfield, Missouri, survive the latest corporate purge

  1. We have one near us .They need to make a bigger /thicker patty for their burgers.
    Around here theirs is thinner than any body else in the business
    They are in buildings that do not stand out so people pass them by

  2. They closed all the ones near us. Personally I’ve thought they were overpriced for the slow service we’ve always gotten.

  3. Too bad that POS CEO became involved with Steak and Shake. I really hope the Springfield restaurant survives unmodified. It’s beautiful, and it’s worth keeping around.

  4. Yeah, the service at their restaurants (Springfield excepted) has been awful for at least 5 years. I used to swing by the Urbana, IL location to get baked beans in the drive through. It usually took about 10 minutes. I have no idea what was so difficult about scooping beans into foam. A few times, I tried going inside to buy beans to go. That was no better. They’d take my money and my order would go in line behind the dine-in MEAL orders. They wouldn’t just scoop the beans and let me go. I’ve stopped going there – both for a small hit of beans and for meals.

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