Vic and Irvs has always had photos of customers on the wall. I've
always been jealous that we are not up there. But this one
photo of Vic and his wife behind the counter caught my eye
so I photographed the photo.
Leo Dodd painting of Vic & Irvs
I too have been going to Vic and Irv's since grade school
and proselytising its superiority over all area contenders
including Don and Bob's, the late Peg's and even the 50's
Bill Gray's. I say even 'cause my family was particularly
partial to Gray's but when I took various members to V&I's
over the years they all had to concede that they'd never tasted
anything like them. The "them" referred to was invariably
rings. I'm surprised you make no mention of them.
They were sublime. When I went back in the mid 90's with kids
and an older brother and HIS kids in tow, I feared they, "the
rings", wouldn't live up to my high school memories or
the tremendous buildup I'd given them to my relatives. Needless
to say, they did and then some. Everyone wanted seconds. I
went back again about two years ago, and again everything
was delicious (another older brother ordered seconds and THIRDS),
but it was winter and the flies had nowhere to settle!
but on the food itself. A bit off-putting. Still, your report
gives me almost unalloyed joy.
is a little alloy in there because of your lapse on the "rings"
and also your scorn for a medium rare 'burg, but I know especially
in gustatory matters there is no accounting for taste. I am,
however, concerned about the employees you mention. There
was one large man - not fat, but tall and big - who often
took my order and seemed always to be near the huge bowl of
"help yourself" dill pickle chips. He seemed to
be precisely the same age in 1999 as he had been in 1968.
Is he gone? Was he the son mentioned and perhaps a lookalike
for his father? I'd love to know. Thank you for the heartening
Joe & His Wife Tango
have been going to Vic and Irv's since grade school. They
are celebrating their 70th year but the last few years have
been sort of turbulent. The Health
Department closed them down in early 20o0 and
we thought they were gone for good. But about a year later
someone started working on the place. We were excited but
afraid they might wreck it. It was kind of retro like. Those
owners took what they learned and moved the business to Florida.
And then a miracle happened. V&I came back better than
ever. Kevin Klee, brother of Don's Original owner Terry Klee
proves third time is a charm.
Miltner wrote a nice piece on Vic & Irv's for the Democrat
and Chronicle when Vic turned 90. It is loaded with all sorts
of historical tid bits. Read
2001 we were driving down to Durand Eastman Park to cross
country ski and we found our car heading towards Vic &
Irv's on the outside chance that we would find it open for
business at long last. Sure enough, it had the neon "OPEN"
sign proudly lit up, and excitedly we pulled into that oh,
so familiar parking lot. They were Back
From The Dead
whole new crop of teen workers met us - about 14 total plus
those unseen in the back peeling onions. It was only the third
day of business. Since there were only a handful of customers,
the workers had time on their hands to chat. And as we ate,
the worker conversation level increased until the manager
(new and probably green as far as working with teenagers)
came out to ask if everyone knew what they were doing.
might just be my imagination but the workers seemed a bit
healthier than the old employees. The workers here have always
been my favorite part of the place. The radio was usually
on back by the grill but it wasn't now. Vic and Irv's has
a reputation. It's like the choice between the Beatles and
the Stones. The Beatle fans would be next door at Don's Original.
thinks it went downhill when Vic's son took over. The guy
sitting next to us told us that Vic
Senior still makes his hot sauce for the new
owners. And sure enough,we caught him at the stove the next
time we stopped in.
cheeseburgers arrived and we dug in. Our server asked if the
fries were well done enough to which I responded, yes. She
informed us that they are now made from fresh potatoes! I
agreed that they were indeed delicious and proceeded to fill
the cup that she gave me with ice and coke (help yourself)
which she said included unlimited refills.
set to dig deeper into my burger, I started noticing an unwelcome
red cast to the inside of my traditionally thin (good to me)
Vic & Irv's burger. I bit round and round until I thought
I couldn't go into the unknown terrain of the red inside and
returned to my well done fries (which really were great).
I toyed with not mentioning the rareness to our server but
ultimately, in the spirit of "helping out" showed
her the remaining red meat. She agreed that it was gross and
said I should have mentioned it (but it was a little hard
since I had slathered it with ketchup).
finished and I refilled my coke for aprés ski knowing
we would be asking for well done burgers along with the fries
next time but elated that our old favorite was back.
2003 Big Bummer!
We were starved and already tasting the cheeseburgers as we
rounded the corner at the end of 590 North. We had my mother-in-law
in the car and this would have been her first time at Vic
& Irv's. The sign was lit up out front but the place looked
empty. We knew the new, oversized Bill Gray's next door was
putting the squeeze on the one and only Vic & Irv's but
we were not ready for this. There was a note on the door that
To: Suppliers, Friends etc.
From: Vic & Irvs Hots & Burgers Inc.
It is with deep regret that Vic and Irv's will permanently
close on October 26, 2003. THANK YOU for your past service
were in shock. We gave the new Bill Gray's a chance and everything
was wrong. Thick, foamy milkshake, onion rings with too much
batter, no Vic's
secret hot sauce. The old Abbots photos on the
wall were ok but there is no magic here.
"Vic & Irv's closed for good a month ago, done in,
I suppose, by the big, new, too-institutional Bill Gray's.
Supposedly the owners have gone to Florida to open a hot dog
"My friend Dave told me he was in Ft. Lauderdale recently
and pulled a
u-e when he spotted a Vic & Irv's. He said it was the
food,(Zwiegels whitehots too) when he asked the counter help
Rochester and Seabreeze, they looked at him as if he was from
least they didn't move it overseas. 50 years was a good run.
We are still in mourning. I'm thinking now that that was the
business plan all along for the new owners. They bought the
fading business and ran it in town until they got it right.
They Vic making the secret sauce, the shakes were as good
as they were in the original Vic and Irv's, the onions were
exactly the same and better than anyone else in town. They
even continued taking occasional pictures of patrons and posting
them on the walls. The place looked new but retro. They had
it down. They stuck it out one winter and when the next one
hit they snuck out of town with the goods.
LDR Char Pit will have to do.
2004 Round Three.
cousin was back in town and we went out driving. We pulled
into the parking lot of Don's original and I glanced over
at Vic & Irv's. The lights were on and they were open again.
We walked in like we were on drugs. It was all like a dream.
One of our favorite servers from round one was behind the
counter. This was like the bar scene in the Shining. They
dumped the retro fixings and brought it all back like it never
I'll have a cheeseburger, onion rings and vanilla shake.