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Vic & Irv's Is Back Again

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Jesus Tree
Subway Reemerges
Hojack Swing Bridge
White Deer
Sacred Heart
Rochester Logo
Romantic Radio
I Love Ferries
Civil War Stories
Thought Band
Genny Ice, Winter 2003
Find The Cell Tower
Garbage Queen
Donuts Delite Everyone

Garth Fagen Dance

No Swimming - Because

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.

View Leo Dodd painting of Vic & Irvs

Joe Barrett writes:
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 the onion 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.

There 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 news.

See Joe & His Wife Tango

I 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.

Karen 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 article here.

Winter 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

A 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.

It 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.

Sparky 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.

Our 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.

Now 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).

We 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.

November, 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 read:

October 24th, 2003
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 and patronage.

We 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.

An astute Refrigerator reader wrote:
"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 place there."

Another reader writes:
"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 same
food,(Zwiegels whitehots too) when he asked the counter help about
Rochester and Seabreeze, they looked at him as if he was from outer space."

At 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.

The LDR Char Pit will have to do.

May 2004 Round Three.

My 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 left.

I'll have a cheeseburger, onion rings and vanilla shake.

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