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Developer aims to build car wash at iconic Biff-Burger site in St. Pete

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St. Petersburg’s renowned Biff-Burger on 49th Street may soon become a car wash.  An email sent to neighborhood officials said a developer intends to file a special exception application at the site, 3939 49th St. N. and 3911 49th St. N., to “request the use of a car wash.”

Biff-Burger — which stands for Best in Fast Food — opened in Clearwater in 1956 and expanded across Florida, the Southeast and into Canada. In the 1970s the chain went out of business. The St. Pete location was one of two operating restaurants to continue.

In December, fans of the roadside burger joint were able to take home pieces of the old business in an auction including furniture, signs, equipment, celebrity photos and even the 1957 Chevy that was stationed on the restaurant’s roof. 

Notes from a pre-application meeting filed with the city show discussions about traffic, tree preservation and the number of car washes within a mile of the property are planned. The 49th Street Car Wash lies 0.1 miles away from the site.

Biff-Burger held a strong following of loyal diners who drove in time and again for its “roto-broiled” burgers — a beef burger that is cooked on an upper rotisserie rack and was broiled between two heating elements like tubes in a space heater while the lower rack held the buns that caught the drippings from the burgers. The burgers were dipped in a special sauce made from 27 spices.

It became a haven for motorcyclists and classic car enthusiasts in the area and had walk-up counters where customers could buy the iconic hamburgers as well as hotdogs and milkshakes.

Nostalgic Biff-Burger to be sold at auction

Biff-Burger. Photo by Bill DeYoung.The future of the iconic Biff-Burger and the adjoining Buffy’s BBQ in St. Pete is uncertain, as the property’s assets will be auctioned.  

Biff-Burger, which opened in the 1950s in St. Petersburg and had several different owners over the years, is now up for auction. It is the only remaining Biff-Burger restaurant in the U.S. 

Biff-Burger, an acronym for “best in fast food,” last switched hands earlier this year when Justin Basil, manager at Tampa-based Rockwell Investments, purchased the two parcels at 3939 49th St. N. in a $1.4 million deal. 

Biff-Burger. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

At that time, Basil told the St. Pete Catalyst he is interested in the property due to its frontage on 49th Street. Basil’s wife, Lauren Basil, operates the Mosh Posh consignment store in Tampa, which closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Basil said he planned for the restaurant operations to continue.

Basil not immediately available to comment on the decision for the property to be auctioned. 

However, Bay Area Auction Services’ listing for the auction reads, “On behalf of the owner/principal prior to the demolition and property redevelopment, we have been commissioned to sell the entire asset inventory of this local landmark burger bar.” 

The auction is slated for Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. The auction includes all of the cooking equipment

This location is known for its elements of the “classic” Biff-Burger architecture, with an existing original road sign, according to the business description. Adjoined to Biff-Burger is Buffy’s Southern Pit BBQ, which is recognizable by the pink ’57 Chevy on the roof.

The business has faced financial woes in recent years. In 2020, the St. Pete restaurant temporarily closed due to a failed health inspection from the state. 

By Veronica Brezina

Original Article

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