Those who remember days gone by in Brevard are sure to think fondly on Burgerland. Its iconic sign, so recognizable to locals, was a mainstay for decades, even as ownership and the business itself changed over time. In 1972 when it was built, there weren’t very many options in Brevard for burgers. Fast food was just beginning to find its way to small towns like Brevard, so there was still a place for “mom-and-pop” restaurants. Burgerland actually began in Candler, NC in 1971 and was owned by Chris and Kathy Zoumbos and Margaret and Constantine “Gus” Koutris. The restaurant was known for its great burgers, chicken, barbeque, and ice cream; it became so popular, the owners decided to branch out to other locations, and the second Burgerland was built in Brevard in 1972.
Prior to the Burgerland building being constructed at the location that is now 280 Asheville Highway, there was no structure there; it was a vacant lot next to the Imperial Motor Lodge. After its construction, the Burgerland owners advertised it as a “new modern building” and erected a sign that was strikingly similar to the one at the Candler location and which is so memorable. “Crispy Crown” fried chicken and “The Best Bar-B-Q in the South” are some of the enticing menu items that were mentioned in advertising. Their barbeque sauce in particular was well-loved and was part of their success. Despite fast food closing in with fierce competition, Burgerland operated under that name and with the same owners for 20 years. In 1991, the owners instead decided to rent the property and leave the operations of the next business occupied the space to the tenants. The Clock of Brevard was the next occupant, opening in 1992. The tenants were the Banias family, who, like the landowners, were of Greek origin. For the next 23 years, The Clock of Brevard served many similar menu items to the beloved Burgerland. The former restauranteurs even shared their secret barbeque recipe with their successors, ensuring that the same favorites would be available for customers. In 2015, the tenants felt that the rent was too high to maintain their business and relocated to a new Greenville, SC area location.
The remaining building had become too outdated with codes and ordinances to be used as an eating establishment, and so the building sat vacant for a couple of years until Dunkin’ Donuts decided to build a franchise there. The Burgerland building was demolished, and the current Dunkin’ Donuts was built. Although Burgerland may be gone, it will live on in memories and photographs. Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.