GREENSBORO, N.C. — Longtime Beef Burger owner Ralph Havis has died at 78 years old.
The iconic burger joint recently closed its doors as Havis decided not to renew the lease on the property after more than 50 years as a West Gate City Blvd. staple.
Havis' funeral home visitation will be on Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Advantage Funeral & Cremation Services confirmed. The funeral home said visitation and the funeral service is open to the public. The funeral is at 2 p.m.
Beef Burger fans and community members alike have mourned Havis' death on social media:
Kelly White was a longtime customer at Beef Burger for about 30 years. He said Havis will be greatly missed.
"That's going to change the landscape forever," he said, "I came up here quite often. At least two, three, four times a month if not more."
White described Havis as friendly, always smiling, and courteous.
"I just remember how he interacted with the customers," White said. "He'd talk to every customer, interact with the kids a little bit and went back about his business."
Jeff Whipple went to college in the Greensboro area and was introduced to Beef Burger and Ralph by his father, who visited the burger joint when he was in college.
"He always associated me with my father and my kids with me and friends with me," Whipple said.
Eventually, Whipple left the area and moved around the country. Each year, he'd find himself back visiting Greensboro, sitting in the same spot at Beef Burger, where he and his family ate for generations.
"Anytime I came back through the years, no matter where I was living, he asked how things were. The last, of course, was, 'How are things in Atlanta?' because that's where I am. How he remembers that, I don't know," Whipple said.
Whipple said the death of Havis is a devastating loss for the community.
"Now an institution, a person, a part of your upbringing, a part of your heritage and really Greensboro, and I don't mean this lightly, it's a part of the community that is now lost," Whipple said.
A restaurant, and a man, that brought people together from all walks of life, will be greatly missed in the Triad.
"All ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds. Everybody was kind of elbow-to-elbow because we were all enjoying the same fare. We all felt it was our own little hidden gem and Ralph knew everybody," Whipple said.
"As long as we keep his memory alive he's always going to live forever in our hearts," Kelly said.