B&G Tasty Foods, located in Beverly Hills Plaza on 79th and Dodge Streets, is closing after 66 years of business. Owner Eddie Morin—and countless community members—are sad to see it go, but unfortunately, that’s just how the cookie, or, well—the loose meat—crumbles.
BG’s opened up in 1953 and moved to its current spot in 1973. Morin was born in 1982 and had been eating at BG’s his whole life. When the opportunity knocked to work there in 2001, he was all in. Then, he bought the place in 2009.
The restaurant, a comfortable diner filled with old Americana wall hangings and modern mascot murals, is known for its loose meat sandwich, a fad food that was commonplace in Eastern Nebraska and Iowa in the 1950s.
“There were all these little loose meat sandwich shacks popping up back then, and I guess we were just the one going after everything else closed down,” Morin said.
The loose meat sandwich is a messy, delicious dish; a mess of beef, onions, mustard, pickles and cheese (give or take a couple condiments, based on the customer’s liking) on a fresh bun. Most frequent customers can confidently say that after one bite, it makes sense why these guys were the ones remaining up to 2019.
So why are they closing?
“The short answer is that I’m moving on,” Morin said. “The number one reason is that rent is too high, but we also have equipment that is prone to failure, tons of awesome employees to pay, and the overhead is really high. It’s hard to make money.”
Morin is also a refrigeration technician who has had to practice the balancing act of owning a restaurant, working as a tech at Heartland Refrigeration –and being a dad. He said he has yet to take his two children (one 6-year-old and one 7-year-old) on a family vacation, and while he would love to keep the restaurant alive and well for his children, he would rather be there to spend time with them. (Namely, at LEGO Land this summer).
“I’ve always been on the inside of it, and all day long we have people telling us how important it is to them, and it breaks my heart that we can’t keep doing it. I always felt like the caretaker of the place, rather than the owner.”
Morin said he has had plenty of offers to purchase the diner, all with the caveat that the new owner would want someone else to run it.
“It’s hard,” Morin said. “It’s tricky to run a restaurant. I also think about the fact that if we close and I still own the intellectual property, we could potentially do something down the line that’s smaller and simpler. I’ve thought about a food truck or pop-ups. If I don’t sell, I retain the right to do that in the future.”
The distant future for BGs is up in the air, but the shop will close on May 27. When Morin broke the news on social media, the community flocked. He said that every day has been “double our busiest day we’ve ever had” where loose meat fans gather to grab a few last bites.
Much of the store’s décor is for sale and was quickly bought off by devoted fans. There are still a couple things that won’t go, though. Morin has a framed photo of the BeeGees behind the counter that represents the ongoing joke that the restaurant has nothing to do with the ‘Stayin’ Alive’ singers.
An even larger symbol of the business’s legacy is a clown portrait of Gayle Gainsforth (the G in B&G; his partner was Ken Bliss, and the two were the original owners). Gainsforth was a Shriner and loved to dress up for parades. Morin said so many people were bidding so highly on the portrait that they had to take it off the walls in fear that it would be stolen.
“People are looking for something to find and buy, but I think the best thing is to just come in here and take some pictures,” Morin said. “The memories are more lasting—and they’re cheaper, too.”
Those memories seem to do the trick for him, too. Although his first memories come from eating at the diner with his father, Morin has forged lifelong relationships with employees, has hosted devoted customers for rehearsal dinners and graduation parties, and his crew has even fed celebrities (like Shia LaBeouf) a meal or two at the shop.
After the final day of business, Morin will host a BGs graduation ceremony for his employees, complete with diplomas, and a jaunt to Grinn & Barrett Tattoo, where the team will get permanent reminders (some of the B+G logo, others perhaps a portrait of Louis Meat, the company’s mascot) of their time together.
“It’s a really tight-knit group of people who are good people, who are hard workers,” Morin said.
He mentioned all of their holiday parties, pool parties, graduations and life milestones.
“I’ve never been part of a group like this that I cared to stay in touch with forever.”
Morin made a point of mentioning that he wanted the closing of the restaurant to be a time of respect and positive nostalgia. With his heart full, the only thing left was the fill the bellies of longtime customers.
“I think of BGs as the customers and the employees and the recipes. It doesn’t hinge on being in one specific location,” Morin said. “We’re in a strip mall. I know people like it here, but the heart of it isn’t in this building—it’s in everyone that eats and works here.”
To learn more about B+G Tasty Foods, visit bgtastyfoods.com.