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Wuv’s Hamburgers, A Late Great Burger Chain

Well, if you were around from 1975 through 1981, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll remember Florida based Wuv’s Hamburgers. Wuv’s was founded by Jack Penrod (Nikki Beach), who got his start in the restaurant industry at McDonald’s in 1961.

At the age of 20, he was the grill man. Jack Penrod then worked his way up to Manager and eventually the largest franchisee of McDonald’s in South Florida. He owned a total of 16 McDonald’s.

By early 1974 Jack Penrod was making plans to open his chain of burger restaurants to be called Wuv’s. In May of 1975, the McDonald’s corporation purchased all of Jack’s stores, and a few days later, Wuv’s Inc was incorporated in Florida. The first location opened in Boca Raton, Florida, on December 10th, 1975.

Wuv’s was known for its fresh, never-frozen burgers, the toppings bar, fresh-cut fries, chili, biscuits, and Wuv Juice (a Passion fruit-based drink) amongst other things. Some of the locations featured a Purple and White building, while others had a wood-paneled look below.


Catchphrases

Do any of these Wuv’s Hamburgers catchphrases sound familiar to you?

We wuv Wuv’s…and we’d love you to wuv Wuv’s with us!

A Fresh Idea in Fast Food

Get Fresh at Wuv’s


Wuv’s Memories

Crawydaddyk on the Roadfood site left a great comment about why he loved Wuv’s:

They had great from scratch onion rings and biscuits (one of the first fast-food chains to offer biscuits with chicken most offered dinner rolls) there was one located close to Popeyes fried chicken headquarters in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. The Popeyes execs would eat breakfast at Wuv’s and got the idea for biscuits with chicken from them. The rest is history. Someone asked why the name Wuv’s.

I was told that Jack Penrod, the originator for the chain, had bought a stuffed animal while on a plane trip, for one of his kids, and there was a tag that said I WUV YOU He liked that saying and decided to name his new chain WUVS. Their salad bar was awesome, and to correct another poster, Wuvs juice was not like OJ. It was made from ingredients flown in from Hawaii like passion fruit, mangos, guava, etc. If anything, it was a healthy version of Hawaiian Punch.

Their motto was “Fresh Never Frozen.” As you can tell, I loved the chain.

Their breakfast was awesome, nothing frozen everything made from scratch, and they also used the biscuits cut in half to make strawberry shortcake with real made from scratch whipped cream.

Also, while you were in the queuing line, you could look into the room where they washed and cut their French Fries and where they cut and battered their onion rings.

There was no doubt their stuff was “Fresh Never Frozen


The End of Wuv’s

On December 23rd, 1981, the Associated Press ran a small story in the New York Times about the demise of Wuv’s entitled Wuv’s Chain Files Under Chapter 11.

In it, Jack Penrod said

We got ourselves in a hole, and we can’t get out of it

They had lost 1 million dollars in revenue, which had led to the dismissal of 30 of its 50 office employees. At the time of their closing, there were 70 locations, 14 of which were in the Detroit area.


Wuv’s Pictures

Wuv's Hamburgers Building
Wuv's Hamburgers Building
Wuv's Hamburgers Building

Wuv’s Hamburgers building pictures courtesy of danduckham.com

Ad from the Tallahassee Democrat 8-26-76
Ad from the Tallahassee Democrat August 26, 1976
Wuv's Hamburger in Bradenton, Florida (July 17th, 1979)
Bradenton, Florida in July 17th, 1979
Jack Penrod & Robert Fitz, picture courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project
Jack Penrod & Robert Fitz, picture courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project
Hialeah Grand Opening Ad
Hialeah Grand Opening ad from Saturday February 23rd, 1980
Postcard Mailer
Wuvs Postcard Mailer
Wuv's Glass that is part of my Burger Museum collection
Wuv’s Glass that is part of my Burger Museum collection

1980 Commercial

In this 1980 commercial they mention 20 South Florida locations.


Known US Locations

ALABAMA

Montgomery3619 Eastern Boulevard

ARIZONA

Phoenix3033 E Indian School Road
Phoenix4035 N 7th Avenue
Tucson5660 E Broadway Boulevard

ARKANSAS

Fort Smith7314 Rogers Avenue

CALIFORNIA

Fort Smith
Chula Vista2650 Main Street
Citrus Heights8537 Auburn Boulevard
Sacramento2234 El Camino Avenue
Sacramento5908 Stockton Boulevard
Tustin17502 17th Street

FLORIDA

Boca Raton 1999 NW 2nd Avenue
Boynton Beach1920 South Federal Highway
Cooper City9700 Griffin Road
Deerfield2215 West Hillsboro Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale1500 S Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale5250 NW 21st Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale1604 West Oakland Park Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale400 East Sunrise
Ft. Lauderdale2316 East Sunrise Blvd
Ft. Myers3535 Cleveland Avenue
Ft. Myers6079 McGregor Boulevard
Hialeah5350 W. 16 Avenue
Hollywood6551 W Taft Street
Lake Worth 3900 Congress Avenue
Lauderhill5621 North University
Miami 1277 NW 7th Street
Miami3200 South Dixie Highway
North Miami600 N.E. 167th Street
Oakland Park1050 E. Commercial Blvd (Oakland Park)
Orlando1600 S Orange Avenue
Pompano437 N. Federal Highway
Pompano281 Pompano Parkway
StuartAddress Unknown
Tallahassee1429 W Tennessee Street
Tallahassee1875 Highway 19 South
Tallahassee2316 N Monroe Street
Tallahassee2529 Apalachee Pkwy
Tampa660 W. Brandon Avenue
Tampa5807 N. 56th Court
Tampa7549 W. Waters Avenue
Tampa 10802 N. Dale Mabry
West Palm Beach7204 South Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach2800 Okeechobee Blvd
Winter Park2295 Semoran Blvd

GEORGIA

Wuvs in Thomasville, Georgia
Wuvs in Thomasville, Georgia, picture courtesy of Thomasville History Center
Thomasville7285 Roswell Road

ILLINOIS

Tinsley Park151st Street, southwest of Orland Square Shopping Center

MICHIGAN

Redford15893 Telegraph Rd
Taylor8695 Telegraph Rd

NEW JERSEY

Florham Park185 Ridgedale Avenue
Little FallsRoute 46 West
ManasquanRoute 35, just south of Manasquan Circle
Ramsey685 Route 17 South
WildwoodAddress Unknown

NEW MEXICO

Albuquerque3800 Menaul NE

OREGON

Gresham505 W Burnside

OHIO

Akron1245/1247 E Talmadge Avenue

SOUTH DAKOTA

Spearfish130 E Ryan

TENNESSEE

Chattanooga4047 Hixson Pike

TEXAS

Richardson760 S Central Expy

VIRGINIA

Hampton219 Fox Hill Road
Hampton1599 Briarfield Road

WISCONSIN

Kenosha7839 Sheridan Road

Known Canadian Locations

Windsor Ontario1750 Huron Church Road


I never ate at Wuv’s Hamburgers, but it seemed like a place that would have been right up my alley. Feel free to leave any memories you might have about Wuv’s Hamburger in the comments below.

*Penrod v. Commissioner was used to obtain some of the information used for this post.

33 Comments

  1. They did have drive thrus. In fact I was the manager of the Rt. 46 Little Falls, N.J. location and I believe they were the first fast food restaurant in the area to have a drive thru. I remember there was a delay in opening because the town was not going to allow the drive thru. The owners lawyers convinced the town that they had a new hamburger making device which could cook a hamburger in a matter of seconds. Namely, a grill! I was trained in the Cooper City, Florida store which had a drive thru and I spent a summer in Houma La. which also had a drive thru. In the southern locations they simply opened the window to hand the customer the order. We tried to warn the company that wasn’t going to work in New Jersey in December. After being open a couple of days they decided to put in a bank type system for the food and money exchanges. I only worked there a couple of years. Most weeks I put in at least 80 hours and as crazy as it sounds I still miss it. We were by far they busiest location in the entire chain and it always felt like the two minute warning in football. A bit of an adrenaline rush trying to keep staffing low and volume high! Too bad it didn’t work because the food really was so much better than other fast food and the atmosphere with the cedar wood, live plants and carpeting made it feel more like a full service restaurant than fast food.

  2. Re the comment at the very top of the page from crawdaddyk, who said he loved the chain Wuvs, and dined at the location in Jefferson Parish, La. near Popeyes HQ- that is the very same location we used to frequent when i was young.. This would have been in the very early 80s, circa 1980-81.. It was actually in a part of town called Elmwood, about 10 minutes outside of New Orleans.. it doesnt seem like it was there for very long, maybe a couple of years- but for a while, we would go by every week becuase they had a ‘Kid’s Special’ , where a certain item from the menu (usually a hamburger, but sometimes possibly chicken, or a hot dog?) was 25 cents on , i believe , Tuesday nights.. And they must not have had a drive-thru, becuase i specifically remember my mom dragging me into the restaurant to see what was on special that night (i was a picky eater, and we didnt have much money).. i was too young to realize that their ingredients were fresh; I’d actually be more likely to eat at a place like that today, though with all the ‘efficiency’ and cost-cutting these days, i seriously doubt that a ‘fresh’ fast food place like that could survive- which might help explain their demise back then, as well.

  3. I opened and worked at the Wuvs location that not mentioned in the article in Florida City Florida , o trained at the store on Miami at 3200 south Dixie they had the best breakfast in pitas and broasted chicken , but that Wiv juice was the thing it was definitely addictive. I’d buy that juice still today if it was available!

  4. There was one in DeLand FL on S. Woodland Blvd. Used to get too large glasses of love juice and take them to the tennis courts at Stetson. Great food I can’t believe it went out of business. It’s surpassed all the other fast food joints by far.

  5. They had one in Sanford Florida on 17/92 next to Sanford mall worked there from opening day went to Ocala Florida location to train and open store then went to Tallahassee store to open and train there. Mister Penrod was a great man enjoyed working for him. Also worked for him in South Florida at McDonald’s on school work program as a grill cook and cashier when needed

  6. There was a Wuv’s in Huntington, NY on Jericho Turnpike. There must have been others on Long Island also.

  7. The Ft Myers Wuv’s was located at 12731 McGregor Blvd, It is an Italian restaurant now.

  8. There was one on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station NY, I was one of the original employees from 1979-1980 (I think that was the dates, pretty sure I was 16 at the time). Not sure how long it lasted though. Their fresh fast food menu was ahead of its time!

  9. Great place to eat and great place to work. My high school buddies and I all worked at the WUVs restaurant on 32nd Avenue and South Dixie Highway in Miami. Ironically after it closed, a McDonalds opened up in the exact same spot. 32nd Avenue later was also named McDonald’s Avenue too date. I still remember all the prepping we would do for all the products. Everything was fresh, never frozen and made from scratch. I still remember most all the steps taken to produce the best onion rings, fries, burgers, chile and fried chicken. In hindsight it sounded like alot of work but back then it was normal and ahead of it’s time. No regrets working there…great memories and great food.

  10. You are missing a location. Hicksville, NY inside the (at the time) Mid Island Plaza.

  11. There was a Wuv’s in Daytona Beach FL from around 1978 to 1981, operated by Daniel Danielak at 20 S. Atlantic Ave. After it closed, the bldg was purchased and converted into a Popeyes Fried Chicken.

  12. There was also one in Boynton Beach Florida on Federal Highway in late 70s early 80s as my besty and I both work there.

  13. Was looking thru old yearbook from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Old ad for WUVS, located at 7314 Rogers Ave., Fort Smith, AR. I was still in Jr. High, we really never did eat out much at all.

  14. I remember the location in Chattanooga Tenn, great food.
    I also remember the Chattanooga stations playing the commercial with the We Wuv Wuvs jingle in 76-78 or around that time period.

  15. I remembered the Wuv’s restaurant in Tallahassee Florida. I was very grateful for the hiring manager, because that’s who gave me my very first job and I was 16, pregnant, and in high school. I worked there until they closed the doors. I must say they what you read about the restaurant about everything being fresh and made from scratch is true!!! I wished that this restaurant was still around.

  16. I was online looking this up. Glad this article is here. I was a kid, 3 to 6 years of age, and my family and I use to dine at a Wuv’s in Fort Myers Florida. I kept searching online for “Wuz,” which is obvious the wrong spelling, due to my my preschool age not recalling the proper name. What I do recall at that age was that I preferred Wuz’s over McDonald’s at that time. Also the insides are described just as I barely can recall. My parents are deceased and I had no one to ask about this restaurant, so I took to the Net. Wow, who even calls the internet the Net these days? Time flies.

  17. I worked at a WUVs in FL in 1978-79. I eventually became the night manager. They had the best fast food and I wish I knew the recipe for their WUV juice. It’s true, there was no freezer on the premises. Everything was fresh made (except the chili, which was made from burgers that were made but not sold and were then refrigerated.) When I started there we had to wear super short purple dresses for uniforms. I’ve been looking for a picture of those awful uniforms. That’s what brought me here.

  18. There was a WUV’s at 600 E Lake Street, Addison, IL 60101 built in front of the Howard Johnson Motel. The building has been replaced with a small Medical Center.

    1. There were 2 WUV’s Hamburger Restaurants in Metro Detroit. One was located in Redford Michigan on Telegraph North of 5 mile. The building was demolished several years after it closed. The 2nd one that I am aware of was in Taylor Michigan on Telegraph Road as well. The building remains, with the exterior mostly intact except the wood exteriors have been painted. It has been New Hong Kong Restaurant, New Hong Kong, 8695 Telegraph Rd, Taylor, MI 48180. Do a Google Street View to see what it looks like!

  19. There was a WUV’s at 600 E Lake Street, Addison, IL 60101 built in fromt of the Howard Johnson Motel. The building has been replaced with a small Medical Center.

  20. I loved this place as a kid! I was born in 1971 and lived in Middleburg Heights, OH. The WUVS location was on the corner of Pearl Rd. and Bagley Rd in Middleburg Hts. After it went under, it became a place called ‘Chuckie’s Chicken’, where you could get a burger, fries, and a pop for $0.99!

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