Seven days without a Halo Burger makes one weak!
|Founded||Flint, Michigan, U.S., (1923)|
|Founder||Samuel V. Blair|
|Headquarters||Grand Blanc Township, Michigan, United States|
Number of locations
|MI: Central Michigan|
Number of employees
Halo Burger, formerly known by its full name Bill Thomas' Halo Burger, is a fast-food restaurant chain based in Genesee County, Michigan owned by Halo Country, LLC. Begun in 1923 as the original Kewpee location and separating from the Kewpee chain in 1967 with two locations, the chain has since grown to seventeen locations in the region.
It is not easy to determine a single founding date for the company because the company evolved from the original Kewpee location opened in 1923 which expanded into a chain before 1944, when Thomas started his business that would later be named Halo Burgers by leasing the original location.
Samuel V. Blair opened Kewpee Hotel restaurant in downtown Flint and expanded to approximately 400 locations by 1939 through licensing the name. William "Bill" V. Thomas started working at Kewpee in 1938. Thomas began leasing the original Harrison Street, Flint location from Blair upon his retirement on April 1, 1944. Blair died in 1945 and Thomas continued to lease the location and pay royalties for use of the Kewpee name from the estate until the Kewpee trademark and Blair estate owned locations went up for sale in 1958. Thomas was able to purchase the Flint location but the Kewpee trademark was sold to Ed Adams of Toledo, Ohio. Thomas expanded with a second Kewpee location downtown Flint with the purchase of Vernor's Ginger Ale building in 1951.
Adams switched from a trademark license of Kewpee to a full franchising arrangement in 1967. Thomas rejected this new arrangement and changed the name of his restaurants to Bill Thomas' Halo Burger. Halo Burgers' first location only under the Halo Burger name opens in 1973 on Linden Road. But during construction, Bill Thomas died that year. In 1976, two more locations join the chain on West Pierson Road and in downtown Grand Blanc at a former Perkins Pancake House. In 1979, the Harrison location was vacated to make way for University of Michigan-Flint parking. The staff of the former Harrison Street location were transferred to a newly opened Halo Burger serving Flint's east side.
The 1980s became a decade of expansion with 10 more locations, starting in 1984 with another Downtown location. In 1985, Halo Burger expanded to Birch Run, Michigan, with a location that was opened on property leased at Conlee Oil Company's station. Locations in Saginaw and Flint's Southwest side opened in 1986. Another location in Saginaw followed in 1987 along with the Richfield Road and Genesee Valley Center locations. Three more locations opened in 1988: in Fenton, at Atherton Road and at Corunna Road near Ballenger Highway. The Saginaw, Genesee Valley Center and Corunna Road locations later closed. Their Grand Blanc Downtown location closed in 1998 and was replaced by a location in Grand Blanc Township.
On September 5, 2002, Halo Burger takes over the former Campus Cafe at University of Michigan-Flint University Center. In November, the company recalled flashlights that were given out with kid's meals. On July 22, 2007, all 11 locations were shut down for a day do to a possible E. coli contamination as their supplier, Abbott's Meat, had recalled a number of meat products and received meat from a temporary supplier. Due to the new student housing and 24-hour food service, Sodexo, that goes along the housing, the University Center location closed April 21, 2008.
Dortch Enterprises ownership
An initial attempt to sell the chain to key employees fell through after issues with the bank. As his son was uninterested in 2010, the Thomas family sold the nine location chain to Dortch Enterprises, which operates multiple Subway restaurants in Michigan, with the sale completed on December 29, 2010 for a price of about $10 million. Dortch will be expanding to new locations and making over of the restaurants towards a "fast-casual feel" with earth tones and "upscale decor". In 2011, the company announced they are adding locations in the Oakland County/Detroit metro area in late 2012 and that they would be adding 2 to 3 locations per year. While Dortch feels that Halo Burger locations would do well in East Lansing with Michigan State University and Ann Arbor with University of Michigan having Flint area university students, plans for opening in those cities have been put on hold.
In June 2011, the Company broke ground for a new 10th location in Grand Blanc Township on Holly Road. Three other sites have been selected for new locations: Fenton, Lapeer and Lapeer Road, Davison. In October the Holly Road location opened.
One opened in a gas station in Mount Morris in February 2012. In August 2012, Dortch filed and received approval for a site plan for a joint Halo Burger-Subway location on Belsay Road in Burton.
In January 2013, Halo Burger's Fenton location moved to a former Burger King building on Leroy Street. A new Brighton, Michigan location was scheduled to open in May in Livingston County and would have been their first location in the Metro Detroit area. In March, Dortch announced plans for 5 Oakland County locations: Troy, Clarkston, Novi, Bingham Farms and Farmington Hills and an East Lansing location to open this year along with the existing announced Brighton location. The joint Halo Burger-Subway Burton location opened March 27.
On February 5, 2013, Dortch Halo Enterprises sued a Grand Blanc man who is using @haloburger Twitter handle since 2009 and has been unwilling to turn the handle over to the company with out payment. The man's defense is that he is not using it commercial, Twitter handles are first come first served and the "Halo Burger" trademark was supposedly rejected by the U.S. Trademark Office for being too similar to another trademark. Dortch Halo dropped the lawsuit to "prevent more controversy." in April.
On May 8, 2013, the Halo Burger in Clarkston opens, its first in Oakland County with a shift to fast casual format with no drive-through in its Oakland County locations. On October 6, Ferndale and Rochester locations were revealed to be under construction along with four others already announced with the Frandor Shopping Center, Lansing location opening up on the 7th.
In early March 2014, the third fully fast casual format location was opened in Troy. The week of July 26, Dortch Halo opened it seventeenth location at the Brighton Mall, Brighton. By 2016, two locations were closed, Troy and Clarkston.
Halo Country subsidiary
Dortch Enterprises sold the 15 location Halo Burger chain to Halo Country LLC on January 14, 2016. Halo Country is majority owned by Chance Richie, who has been involved in investment banking and the oil and gas industry. With Flint water crisis occurring, the three Flint and Burton locations were handing out free bottled water on January 22, 2016 with support from Coca Cola Company.
In March 2016, Halo Burger began renovating its downtown Flint location with plans to continue renovation at locations in Birch Run and on Linden Road in Flint Township. Office were being added upstairs at the downtown location. Also in early March, a new location was opened at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the chain's first professional sports partnership. Starting with the July 2016 Back to the Bricks, the company would have a Halo Burger food truck for community events.
Three locations, Brighton, Novi and Fenton Road, were closed in late September 2016 due to poor sales. Halo Country felt a drive thru would improve sales at Metro Detroit locations, but the cost and location outside of Halo Burgers' area of recognition made that unreasonable. By September 29, 2016, the Brighton location was closed as a Burgerland opened in its location.
Two stores in Genesee County closed on January 6, 2017. The Mt. Morris Township location was located in a Beacon & Bridge gas station where Halo could not agree on a new lease with the landlord. A replace site is being look for with expectation of reopening in late 2007. While, the Richfield Road, Genesee Township location was closed to to lack of sales and closeness to three others.
In January 2017, Halo Burger signed Andre Drummond as its first spokesperson and brand ambassador, which arose out of his interest in Flint arising out of the water crisis and Piston owner's Flint Now response effort. In February 2017, Drummond will design his own burger, the Dre Burger, to join the menu in the second quarter and participate in community outreach of the company. The Dre Burger debut on April 16, 2017 with a benefit official launch event on Saturday, May 6, 2017.
- Q.P.: Original called the Kewpee, its name is a phonetic sound-out of the original name and has been served since 1923. The Q.P. is also a short form reference to the patty size, a quarter pound hamburger. The burger consists of a flat bottom bun with deluxe toppings (mayo, lettuce, tomato originally) ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. This still today remains one of the Halo Burger's most popular sandwiches, especially with olives.
- Olive Burger - a Q.P. with olives
- Boston Cooler - with Vernor's Ginger Ale
- Specialty burgers
- hot dogs - supplied by Koegel
- Coney dog - Flint style
- Grilled Chicken Caesar
- Cobb - with applewood smoked bacon
- Greek - with kalamata olives and beets
- turkey burger - Jennie-O
The Downtown Flint location was previously Vernor's Retail Store and Sandwich shop built in 1929. A Vernor's Ginger Ale mural (including the ginger ale's gnome mascot) covers the adjacent Greater Flint Arts Council building and was painted by John Gonsowski. The restaurant's interior iron railing still contain large wrought V's.
- 1978 Top 100 United States Burgers by a national radio survey
- 1983 Voted Flint's #1 hamburger by a Flint Journal Newspaper survey
- 2000 Voted Michigan's #1 hamburger by a Detroit News Reader Survey
- 2011 Best Hamburger of Genesee Readers' Choice Awards, The Flint Journal
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