Dave's Giant Hamburger

Julie Wright prepares some very large chili burgers Wednesday at Dave's Giant Hamburger along North Texas Street in Fairfield. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

Secrets of Success 2012

Dave’s Giant Hamburgers has legacy – and no fries

By From page SOS7 | December 30, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Anyone who’s had a burger from Dave’s in the past 49 years knows what it tastes like today.

Dave’s Giant Hamburgers has been at its North Texas Street location for 49 years and still uses the same kind of meat, buns and cheese as it did when it opened. Even the grill is original.

“When you buy a burger here, you know it’s super fresh and it’s Kraft cheese,” said Lesa Gonzalez, daughter of the original owner, Dave Heim. “When people come back and are hitting the town, they have to hit Dave’s.”

Gonzalez now runs the burger joint after her dad died six years ago. Recently, her mother Carol couldn’t handle the day-to-day operation, so Gonzalez jumped in. Gonzalez is no stranger to the place as she has helped out on and off since she started making milkshakes in the eighth grade.

Heim had never owned a restaurant before walking away from his accountant job in San Francisco to open the small burger shack that backs up to Armijo High School. She said he hated accounting and loved big, juicy burgers like Nation’s.

That led to him taking over the business from another owner and renaming it. At one point, the sign read “Heimburgers,” but was eventually taken down due to confusion by customers.

It wasn’t long before he started picking up business and bonding with the customers. His orange Chevy truck became a landmark, parked outside while he flipped burgers.

“He lived here,” Gonzalez said. “When you saw the truck around town, everybody knew it was Dave driving by.”

Much of the 1950s-themed decor still looks as it did years ago. The checkerboard floors, bar stools and turquoise paint speak of a diner from the past. As for that paint, apparently Heim was notorious for finding a bargain. When it came to painting, a buddy turned him on to some cheap paint. He agreed and slapped a coat on.

“My dad was color blind, in his defense,” she said with a laugh. “He got a good deal. The good deal was mixing all of the paint colors together.”

As the reputation grew, so did the stories behind one of the things that set Dave’s apart from nearly every burger joint. Dave’s does not sell french fries. While there are many stories behind the reason, Gonzalez said it comes down to money. It was more work than they were worth after buying the fryer, keeping it up, buying the grease and selling the fries for a small profit.

“He had a million jokes about that,” she said. “People that like the burger get it. We don’t need the fries.”

Patrons must settle for a bag of chips or chili as a side dish. Gonzalez said some people will walk out when they realize there are no fries.

“They leave. It happens. But we’re not here to make them happy,” she said. “We know it’s a new person when someone orders fries.”

One regular who doesn’t mind is Taylor Torrence, who has been eating there since he was in first grade.

“With how good the burgers are, I don’t need them,” the 18-year-old said of fries. “I know most of the workers here, too. It’s a nice environment.”

Serving him that cheeseburger was Kelly Paulson, Gonzalez’s daughter. The 24-year-old worked with her grandfather when he used to bring her home from school. At one point, she was recruited to work the grill.

“I think he didn’t want to pick me up, so he said, ‘Put an apron on,’ ” Paulson said.

It’s unclear if she will one day run the business, but for now she’s happy to carry on the tradition.

“I was born into the legacy,” she said. “I’m always going to be here to help.”

Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.


Dave’s Giant Hamburgers
Address: 1055 N. Texas St., Fairfield
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

Danny Bernardini

Danny Bernardini

Danny is a newspaper man born and raised in Vacaville. He attended Chico State University and has written for the Enterprise Record and the Reporter. Covers the City of Fairfield, education and crime. A's, Warriors and Saints fan. Listener of vinyl, frequent visitor to the East Bay. Registered "decline to state" voter. Loves a good steak.

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Please read our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy before commenting.

  • steve terrellJune 28, 2013 - 5:45 am

    i ate at daves since i was 15 he opened and we became friends, i am 64 now .i used to work for dave after i got out of the service i cleaned his place when he used to close at 2 am. i moved from fairfield in 2002.but i would call him once in awhile.i would paint for him and do things around his business i painted the ceiling once,walls,clean the floor etc ,i put a new floor in the bed of his orange truck,used it to move ...i would take burgers instead of money for helping him sometimes he'd say free burgers for a month or a week .he has the best burgers i ever tasted,i always try to find burger places to see if they have daves taste ,haven't found one yet...my wife agrees his burgers were the best ....anywhere... he was a good friend and i miss him.he will always be my friend.he was funny and loved his family and his customers.dave heim worked for s.p. at one market st ,s.f. before he moved to fairfield.i worked for s.p. then u.p. bought them out and i finally retired in 2006 ,now live in arkansas.i have alot of stories about dave and i know his children and wife ...some day i will travel to fairfield to eat a dave's giant burger and pay my respects...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Special Publications »

    Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service (updated 4/30/2015) and Privacy Policy (updated 4/7/2015).
    Copyright (c) 2016 McNaughton Newspapers, Inc., a family-owned local media company that proudly publishes the Daily Republic, Mountain Democrat, Davis Enterprise, Village Life and other community-driven publications.