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Who Remembers…Howdy Beef ‘N Burger?

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In a previous “Who Remembers…?” we discussed Burger Chef. A number of people had mentioned another burger joint Howdy Beef n’ Burger. Having grown right here and not recalling Howdy Beef n’ Burger, I knew it was before my time. There are a LOT of “Who Remembers…?” that I would like to do – in fact, a number that would already have been done – however, the lack of images prevents that.

Howdy Beef ‘n Burger was a chain with at least 27 locations making it easier to come across photographs and anecdotes – enough to put something together.


The button that kid’s would get with each order. (timepassagesnostalgia.com)

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The Howdy Beef ‘n Burger chain was started by the same fellow that also founded Dunkin’ Donuts, William Rosenberg. The chain centralized in Boston and spread outward over the course of a few years and was inspired by the children’s television show that ran from 1947-1960.

“Howdy’s” was supposed to be a Dunkin’ Donuts segue into focusing on and serving food. In fact, many of the first few Howdy’s, like the one in Concord, NH that opened in 1965 and owned by Sam Silverstein, were “combination” Dunkin Donuts and Howdy Beef ‘n Burgers and not stand-alone shops. While these were separate storefronts, they shared the same parking lots and were right alongside one another.

The idea was that customers could stop in for coffee and “a” doughnut or muffin in the morning, and return later for lunch or supper. These first franchises were said to be very profitable. Silverstein said of his Concord shop that the Howdy’s brought it more revenue than his Dunkin’ Donut’s location by a long shot.

As far as the South Coast goes, the Fall River location was on President Avenue and the business mogul, Michael Panagakos, owned two of them in New Bedford. One of which was situated downtown, on Purchase Street.


One of many variations of Howdy Doody restaurant, Howdy’s beefburgers, and Howdy Beef ‘n Burgers. (stolffiles.com)
I do remember the McDonald’s that replaced it, but not the Howdy’s. Based off of memory from when I was a child, I believe the Howdy’s Beef ‘n Burger/McDonalds was next door to where the Bamboo Garden was. I couldn’t find any solid information where the second one was (near the car wash), but came across one anecdote that mentioned it was at the bottom of Rockdale Avenue.

I know that someone out there will recall both and I hope you clarify.

What I’ve come across in terms of anecdotes are many. What’s remembered fondly? “Howdy, may I help you?” Clipping coupons to get four burgers for one buck or occasional sales where you could get twelve burgers for a dollar. A New England menu with seafood, including haddock or shrimp dinners, fish sandwiches, clam strips, and Snow’s clam chowder.

The Big “B” was their version of the Big Mac or Whopper – speaking of which I came across the mention of a sandwich called the “Whooper.” There was a popular roast beef sandwich and a fried chicken with French fries plate. A soda or order of French fries were 20 cents. Rumors are that you could, of course, order Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. While they didn’t have anything similar to a Happy Meal, with every order a child got a Howdy Doody button.

The jingle was as follows:

“Howdy Beefburger Drive-ins Serve up tasty treats
Beefburgers made with just the finest meats
Howdy Beefburger Drive-Ins, Drive right up and get
Speedy Speedy Speedy Service and the best Beefburgers yet.”

Do you remember Howdy’s Beef ‘N Burgers? Have pictures or anecdotes? Please comment and share!

About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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54 comments

  1. Howdy’s was on the corner of Rockdale and Cove Rd. There is a car wash there now? The backside of Howdy’s was the Goodyear plant. High school years stopped in to get a bag o burgers with friends. Knew someone who went to NB High class of 79 that worked there. Wasn’t my favorite, but did dine there at least once.

    • Debra Normandin Watkins

      Remember when the hamburgers were 10 cents and fries were 7 cents if memory serves me right…and yes it was rockdale ave and cove road …right were the carwash is now…

    • There was one in Falmouth Maine on Rt. 1. The building was most recently occupied by Pratt Abbott dry cleaners. I believe the building was built specifically for Howdy’s, as its a odd looking structure.
      I only remember getting hot dogs there and maybe roast beef sandwiches. I do remember that the staff dressed in cowboy hats and said “Howdy” as a greeting. It wasn’t there long – maybe 3 years in very early 70s

      • We had one on Morrill’s Corner in Portland ME as well. I remember 25 cent cheeseburgers when I was a kid. Lived not too far, so I was a regular there! Circa 1970.

      • The Falmouth building was originally a roast beef restaurant. If I remember correctly, this was owned by Jordan’s Meats, a local meat distributor.
        I remember going to the Howdy’s at Morrill’s Corner when I was in high school. It later became a chinese fast food restaurant called Wok Inn. This lasted for many years & is now closed.

  2. There was a Howdy’s Beef Burger on Purchase St where the off-ramp from the Downtown Connector is now. We used to go there often for their strawberry shortcakes which were delicious. And yes, there was one at the bottom of Rockdale Ave where the car wash is today

  3. The Purchase St store was located approximately where the route 18 exit empties onto Purchase at the now Glasier Glass, taking advantage of hungry(and poor) tech school students….apparently there was no cafeteria at the NBTI campus. I recall the brightly colored red and yellow tables with umbrellas outside

  4. I remember going to Park Oil on Orchard St and getting a pack of cigarettes with 2 gallons of gas then going to Howdy’s for a small burger, coke and fries, all for around a buck! There were two Howdy’s one at the corner of Orchard, Cove and Rockdale next to the Giordano textile mill which was Rochester Clothes. The other was across from Glaser Glass on Purchase St. The worst burgers in the history of mankind, but they were cheap and most importantly it was a meeting place.

  5. I remember when they gave stickers to put on your car that were flower- shaped with a different word written on each one,such as Howdy ,Peace or Shalom. You would find out which one when you pulled it out the bag.

  6. I frequented the Purchast St location with my parents. They had fish and chips on the menu, served in a foil-lined, cardboard box that kept the meal warm and was sturdy enough to eat from. The outside of the box had red and white stripes if I recall correctly.

  7. christopher brisson

    I grew up in the South End of New Bedford and thus passed by the Rockdale Ave/Cove location several times a week, if not every day. The building was brown and orange, as well as the interior decor (the formica booths, etc.). In the spring of 1982 I participated in a March of Dimes walkathon that was 18 miles long and it brought us all over the city–North End, South End, you name it. I did the walk with my Taylor School classmate, Teresa Cordeiro, and the Howdy’s was near the end of the route (we had been walking for five hours at that point) and we stopped in to get something to eat to power us through the home stretch.

    That means that location was still in operation at least until 1982. I’m not sure when the McDonald’s on Dartmouth Street opened, but that would have been the closest fast food competition.

    I live in Los Angeles (since 2000), and when I moved here I could not believe the proliferation of fast food chains. Way more than in New England. What that says about gustatory culture out here, I’m not sure, but you can’t shake a stick without a fast food joint in your path.

    For burger joints we have of course McDonald’s and Burger King. But there is also Carl Jr.’s, Fatburger, Jack in the Box, Sonic, Johnny Rockets, and In-N-Out.

    For Mexican choices there is Taco Bell, Del Taco, El Pollo Loco, and nicer “fast casual” outfits such as Chipotle, Baja Fresh and Rubio’s.

    For Asian choices there’s Panda Express and Yoshinoya.

    And there’s also KFC and Artby’s. And sandwich chains Subway and Quizno’s.

    On many busy thoroughfares you can find a dozen or more of these places in a small stretch.

  8. James Fernandes

    The Howdy’s on Purchase was next door to what was then the New Bedford Institute of Technology that became part of Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute. Many of the students used to go there for lunch. Delta Kappa Phi had some of its’ pledges perform on the roof of Howdy’s. I remember because I was one of them.

  9. As kids we always stopped at Howdy’s on Rockdale Avenue. One dollar would get us a burger, fries, soda and about 24 cents left over for a gallon of gas at the Mutual gas station which allowed us to drive around town in my Volkswagen Beetle!

  10. The howdy’s I went to was on purchase st. Our family did not have a lot of money so when I graduated from Keith jr. High in 1963, I got to go to howdy’s for ae treat. I never understood why it was torn down so the glass co. Could come in.

  11. I believe John Adams owned the Howdy’s on Purchase St. at one time.

  12. It was never next to the Bamboo Garden.The one on Purchase street was across from Glazer Glass.The,students from SMTI & the students from the old New Bedford High School went there and the regular neighborhood.The South End one was at the bottom of Rockdale Ave.They got the South End crowd and those going or coming from the Beach.

  13. I worked at Howdy’s in Concord NH. It was my first job. I loved it. I actually have a facebook page about our store. I met my husband there when we were 16…we will be married for 39 years in May.
    https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=alumni%20of%20howdy%20beef%20n%20burger%20concord%20nh stop by my page!

  14. My first non-farm job was at the Howdy’s in Concord, NH. I was the French Fry guy for $.65 an hour.

  15. Bringing me back, we went to the Purchase St. Howdy’s most often, does anyone recall seeing Chuck Conners, “The Rifleman” at a promo stop late 60’s?

  16. Howdy’s was our big night out back in the late 1960’s. This was about the only restaurant we could afford as parents of three small children. Loved the one on Purchase Street in New Bedford.

  17. There was one on the Raynham-Taunton line on route 44

  18. what was the restaurant next to northend trucchis in newbedford?

  19. My handle on the CB in the 70’s was Howdy Doody ! I used the picture of Howdy off the burger bag for my Q.S.L. cards . We found a stray dog at the Purchase St . location and we named him Chip .!

  20. I lived at 934pleasant st between maxfield and hillman st. howdys was north of maxfield and purchase st. Back in early 60s. Fries were the best

  21. What a great Sunday afternoon tank up gas for $1 or $2 and cruse between Howdy ‘s on Purchase Street, A & W on Rt#6 in Fairhaven and Gulf Ice Cream up the North end!

  22. Their was a Howdy’s in Rhode Island back in the 60’s and 70’s. The burgers were 15 cents and the fries were 12 cents, We would go at least once a week. I think it was located on Warwick Ave, in Cranston.

  23. My sister, brother and I were discussing fast food restaurants from our childhood in the 60’s and no one could remember eating at any except A&W. When I mentioned Howdy’s, they thought I had lost my mind. Thanks so much for this article, proving I am not delusional!

  24. There was a Howdy’s in Biddeford, ME. On Elm Steet near the Saco River.

  25. I remember a Howdy’s in Concord, NH, that overlooked the Merrimac River, I believe. I moved to Maine in 1972, so it had to be when i was only 4-6 years old. My father worked at Rumford Press, not too far from the restaurant. We had many occasions of picking him up after his 3-11 shift, and going by it. I remember that we couldn’t afford to eat there much, but we sat at the picnic tables overlooking the river, and ate our own picnic lunches. I have told my family that I remember when I ate at Hardee’s, as a boy, when it was actually Howdy’s! LOL!

  26. There was a Howdy’s in the Stuart’s/DeMoulas mall on Water St. in Fitchburg, MA. I remember going there often as a teenager in the early 70’s when you could safely walk around Fitchburg. At some point D’Angelos moved into the building and then the building was demolished as part of the strip mall redesign.

  27. Ahh nostalgia! I remember the Howdy’s in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It would have been the late 70’s when I was but a pup. I remember my dad allowing me to carry the tray of food back to the table and dropping it on the floor! McDonald’s came to town around that time, hastening the end of Howdy’s run in the Northeast Kingdom.

  28. I remember there being a Howdy Beefburgers on Winter Street in Haverhill. After Howdy closed I’m not sure if there was another establishment there but eventually The Mediterranean Pizza and Subs took over and now it’s a Dunkin Donuts

  29. My Mother worked in the Howdies on VFW Parkway, Dedham/West Roxbury line early 70’s, Great double cheeseburgers, wish they were still around…

    • Hi Andy. what was your moms name. Maybe her and I went to school together? I grew up in Dedham and graduated high school in 1972. I went to Riverdale elementary.

  30. I was an exec. with Howdy in the 60s… I was wooed over from McDonalds where I’d held a high position with the company… We had about 35 HOWDY BEEFBURGER units at one time… The reason it closed down was there wasn’t enough interest from the parent company which was DD… The donut shops were the nations leader… And remain in that position to this day… McDonalds was {and is} the king of hamburgers… Howdy could never really compete with them…

  31. Howdy’s in Fall River was the only one I knew….fries about .17 cents….we walked there as kids after school. It was where D’Angelos now is corner of North Main and President Ave. The dawn of fast food for me.

  32. Back in 1969 (as I best recall) I worked at the Howdy’s on the eastbound lane of Rt. 9 in Framingham, just east of the Mass State Police HQ facility and across the street from the famous Surf n Turf restaurant.
    The manager loved me because I was the only person that could prepare 48+ burgers at a time on the large grill while steaming the fish sandwiches and frying the fries at the same time. Mind you, this was back in the 60’s and Howdy’s food didn’t come off the back of some big franchise truck in preprepared frozen bags, lol. Nope, a lot of it was prepared from fresh ingredients and took time to prepare beforehand and before the lunchtime and dinner onslaught of the hungry masses, though we were always busy, which looking back, was a testament to just how great Howdy’s food was!
    For example, I would prepare the fries by taking a 50 pound burlap bag of potatoes and empty it into a large washing machine type machine whose steel tub had sides which were coated with abrasive embedded into its enamel coating. I then flooded the tub with water a few times to clean and rinse the potatoes, drained it, and then filled it once more and turned the tub on. It slowly began to rotate and as it did the potatoes would rub against the abrasive wall and their the skins would slowly disappear. There was actually some skill involved in this procedure, as you wanted to leave just the right amount the skin on the potatoes as it added flavor and texture to the end product. When just right I turned the tub off, drained the brownish water and then gave them one last rinse. I then took the potatoes to the commerial fry cutter and cut each potatoe individually by placing it upright on the cutter and then pulling the handle down, cutting the potatoes, one-one, into about 3/8″ inch square, long pieces.. The cut potatoes then dropped into 5 gallon pails of iced, cold water and were then placed into the walk-in fridge. I typically prepared between 150-200 pounds (3-4 sacks) of potatoes a day.
    To the best of my recollection our burgers were never frozen and were delivered fresh each and every day. When I grilled them they didn’t have a lot of greasy fat running off of them, and certainly less than what you would get off of the 80/20 hamburger which I’ve used for the past 45+ years of backyard grilling since that time. It was good, fresh hamburger, and I never once encounter anything in it such as gristle, etc.., and it was sure delicious!
    I believe that I may have met Mr. Rosenberg once or twice, along with some of the other Howdy’s Executives, too perhaps include Mr. Wood, who commented above. My manager was quite proud of me and would often watch me when we were busiest and I was knocking off 48 burgers on the grill. So proud that one day I turned around and there were several of the Howdy’s Executives standing behind me at the grill, watching me intently. I went about my business and when things slowed down I was introduced to each of the men who all commented that they never seen anyone grill 48 burgers at a time and that they had only seen one other person who could grill more than 24 at a time, and that was 36. So man, was I ever proud, but hey, I didn’ know any better, lol..! More so, I did this while cooking the fries and steaming the fish sandwiches…
    So, if you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume that you’re probably interested in how the burgers were cooked..? Well, the diced onions used on the burgers came preprepared in 5 gallon pails, as did the sliced pickles. I would use a screened ladle and remove about a gallon or so of onion and pickle and place them in containers. The pickles were placed on the prep table behind the grill together with the mustard, ketchup, and bun trays (they each held 12 buns). I’d put down the first 12 burgers in 2 rows of 6 each on the far left side of the grill and take a couple of handfuls of the diced (not sliced!) onions and put them on right side of the grill to cook. Then, I’d turn around and open the buns and arrange them on the tray. I now put down another 12 burgers next to the others and repeat onions and buns, etc. In between you might get a fish sandwich order so you’d open the fridge behind the prep table and toss the breaded fish filet into the steamer and hit the timer button. While you were there you’d toss a basket of fries in the hot oil and hit that timer, all the while watching the burgers…
    Back at the grill you watched and waited until you could see the red meat juice begin to percolate to the top of the first 12 burgers, meaning it was time to flip them. You’d flip the first 12 and then reach over and using your flipper scoop a bunch of the grilled onions and using your hand put some on each burger. After a couple more minutes the red juices would now be seen on the top of the previously flipped burgers and now the fun really began, as you wanted them hot for the customers. You’d now salt and pepper the burgers and with the flipper you could grab 2 burgers at a time, turn around, and place them on the buns. After placing the last burgers on the buns you’d turn around and like clockwork the 2nd 12 burgers were ready to be turned over and perhaps another 12 patties put down in place of the 12 you just removed. This was dependent upon the front manager, who would just say “Bob, please put down another 12, 24 burgers,” depending on how busy we were).
    The pickles were the first thing placed on the burgers, by hand. Now, there was a rack on the prep table which held 3 large 1-gallon funnels, one containing mustard, one ketchup, and one tartar sauce. With one in each hand I’d squeeze the carrying handle and each funnel would release a portion of mustard and ketchup on top of the grilled onions and pickles, and if it was a cheeseburger cheese would now be placed on top of the condiments. Double burger or cheeseburger, no problem… Howdy’s was the original have it your way..!
    Now, there was a technique to wrapping them that I can’t remember, but it was done quickly and efficiently, much like nowadays at McDonalds or Burger King, as best as I can tell The wrapped burgers were then placed into their respective slides located on top of the grill and they slide down to the front for sale.
    The timers were always going off at the fry station and they were prepared exactly as they are done nowadays. Fish sandwiches much the same, but ours were steamed, as we’re the buns, with a FULL piece of cheese, unlike nowadays. And they were huge pieces of thick fish, probably twice the size as what is served at MD’s now. GREAT TASTING, too..
    Later, as I moved on, I went to UMASS Amherst and put myself thru college working several odd jobs. One of them was as a cook at a local restaurant were I started washing dishes and doing food prep. One day one of the Chefs didn’t show up one and I was tasked to work with the head Chef cooking meals, and LOTS OF BURGERS, ha ha.., my time had come!
    He was a bear to work with, but as things got busy, and without his permission, I started working the burger grill, cooking fries, steaming buns, etc., and he just looked at me in amazement and never said a word. Later, he took me aside and asked me where the heck did I ever learn to cook that good and so fast and I proudly said Howdy’s, too which he replied what the hell is Howdy’s..? The look on his face was priceless and he took me under his wing thereafter…
    I’m sure that you’re wondering, much like me right now, when I’m ever going to shut up, right..? Well, over the past several decades and till this day whenever I grill everyone says that my burgers are the best that they’ve ever tasted. Reason being is that I keep them fresh and simple, the way I learned at Howdy’s..!!
    Best Regards — Bob

    • My dad worked at the Howdy’s in Fall River as a teenager. He still fondly recounts the details of how the perfect fries were made, much as you described above, but he says that after the fries were washed they were lightly fried, set aside to cool, and then fried a second time before serving. Do you remember doing it that way in Framingham? Apparently it gives them the perfect crispiness.
      Many years later when I was a kid he bought a small fry-o-later for our kitchen and set out on the quest to create the “perfect fry” using much of his expertise from Howdy’s, and I must say they were quite delicious!

    • Great story, thanks!

  33. Howdy Beef N Burger was on Main St Concord NH Coworkers were Thomas Chagnon and Rodney Abbott and Manager Jim Lawson and Annette Hamel and myself, Fred French! I loved the Big B and apple snackle and the frys beat Micky D’s to the galaxy and back!

  34. I GREW UP IN THE HARTFORD,CT. AREA AND RECALL THE HOWDY BEEFBURGER DRIVE-INN NEXT DOOR TO THE DUNKIN DONUTS ON NEW PARK AV RIGHT OVER THHTFD/W.HTFD LINE. BACK THEN DUNKIN ACTUALLY MADE THOSE DONUTS ON LOCATION AND THEY WERE YUM-BOOOO

  35. Anyone remember WonTon onPurchase Street New Bedford. Run by Cliff Wood. Looking for pics or any info thank yoi

  36. I remember Howdy Beefburgers in Manchester N.H. at 216 Elm Street (where Dunkin Donuts is now).
    Right next to Howdy’s at 234 Elm St (where St. Mary’s Bank is now) used to be Dunkin Donuts.
    This was back in the mid to late 1960’s to early 1970’s

  37. My mom worked at Howdy’s when I was growing up. There was a Howdy’s diagonally across the street from the original Dunkin Donuts in Quincy , Ma. The Dunkin Donuts is still there and rehabbed to look as it did when founded. The Howdy’s building is still there but is now a Wendy’s. Both are located on Southern Artery in Quincy, Ma.

  38. There was a Howdy’s on Rt. 28 in Salem, NH from maybe 1962 until 1967. It was crushed by McDonalds which opened a half mile north that year. They had 12 cent fries and fifteen cent hamburgers. They also had fabulous fish and chips which came in a flip-top boat-type box. For some reason I remember the fish & chips was 35 cents.. Howdy’s was replaced by a Jack in the Box. Today, the building is Highline Motors, next to Two Guys Smoke Shop.

    There was another Howdy Beefburger in Lawrence, MA in front of the train station. It later was a Mr. Tux store.

    I have two pictures but don’t see a way to upload them.

  39. John Cavalieri

    I remember the one that was on the corner of Bridge st/VFW parkway in Dedham. It was still there in 1967 when we moved to California. Ate many a burger there. Right down the street from Gagliards restaurant if I’m not mistaken. I also remember when they opened up a MacDonalds on VFW parkway. Went there for the grand opening and saw Major Mudd there! I still have his autograph!

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