Danver’s Restaurant, Memphis TN

My son and I took a break from all the gaming in Memphis, and found a blast from my past to provide us with cookies and a ham sandwich.

After breakfast, we all went back to Marie’s sister’s apartment. Our son got some attention as everybody built Lego creations with him for several minutes, but eventually the grownups were ready to retire and play games that he won’t be ready to play for many more years yet. Since I’m not going to be ready to play those games for many more years yet either, he and I took a nice, long walk around the neighborhood and along Union Avenue. There, we spotted a restaurant’s old sign and it tickled an old circuit in my memory banks.

I just barely remember Danver’s Restaurant from my childhood. That built-with-logs logo and the tiffany lamps are almost familiar, but not quite. I’m certain that we ate here at least once when we were kids, even though my mother does not remember it, but everything about the interior layout – the lamps, the salad bar, the menu of burgers, roast beef, and hot ham sandwiches – was something I’d seen before. This was once a chain with some spread through at least five or six states, but today it’s down to just four locations in Memphis and one across the border in Olive Springs MS. The store on Union was most likely built as a Wendy’s.

Between friends on Twitter and the regulars at roadfood.com’s forum, we’ve placed Danvers in the following cities:

Birmingham AL
Fort Smith AR
Athens GA (Atlanta Hwy, where the Golden Pantry near Alps and Hawthorne is today)
Morrow GA (Mt Zion Rd)
Rome GA
Smyrna GA (on US-41 at 2630 Cobb Pkwy, just north of I-285)
Jackson MS
Oxford MS
Knoxville TN (Kingston Pike)

Do you know of any others? Leave us a comment!

As for the actual food and not the old geography of nearly-forgotten restaurant chains, my son and I shared a hot ham sandwich and fries and a couple of cookies and called that a good snack. We still had some hours to kill before Marie and her family were done with their games, so we walked around another couple of blocks, during which he conspired to somehow traipse in every other homeowner’s yard in search of the perfect twig. Then we returned and resumed building Lego battle cruisers and rescue vehicles while waiting patiently for games to finish. There was legendary-good barbecue waiting for us an hour away.

Danver’s Restaurant
1468 Union Ave
Memphis, TN 38104

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!


16 thoughts on “Danver’s Restaurant, Memphis TN

  1. The Danver’s near I285 on Hwy 41 in Smyrna was actually across 41 from Jilly’s. The building is still standing and is Promove/Apartment Finders on the corner of 41 and Cumberland Blvd. When it was a Danver’s it looked very much like the one in your photo with this article.

    1. There is also a Danvers just across the state line from Memphis, in Olive Branch, MS, (at least it was still there 2 or 3 years ago). I still like their roast beef sandwiches and the salad bar is tolerable as a side dish. Reminds me of Lums, except Lums had those big frosty beer mugs.

  2. There used to be a Danver’s on Buford Hwy between N. Druid Hills and Corporate Blvd. It could be where Lips is now, if I recall correctly. But could’ve been any of the other buildings along that stretch of road between the bank and the car wash.

  3. Chris Bell of Big Star opened the first Danver’s in Atlanta in 1977. It was on Buford Highway NE, not far from the Rusty Nail Pub.

  4. I’m pretty sure there was one in Norcross, GA off of Jimmy Carter Blvd, at 6180 McDonough Dr and Dawson Blvd. It looks to now be a Manchuria Garden Buffet but the building was originally a Danver’s, which would have been around 1985, I believe. Man, those burgers were thick. Thanks for the heads-up on still existing locations.

  5. There was a Danvers in DIckson, Tennessee, on Mathis Drive. Before, it was a Danvers, it was a Druthers (a dead chain now owned by Diary Queen with the exception of the original location in Louisville). It was called Burger Queen before that. They tore the building down and built a Taco Bell, which is still there.

  6. I managed two different Danvers back in the early 80s. My first restaurant was just south of the “Big Chicken” on Cobb Parkway (US 41 or “the four lane”) in Marietta, GA. A friend managed the one further south on Cobb Parkway in Smyrna, GA. Towards the end of my tenure, I managed the one in Roswell, GA. If I recall, there were close to 8 or 9 in the Atlanta area at the time. Someone mentioned Buford and Athens. I think there was one in Stone Mountain as well.

    The name Danvers came from the three founders. Dan somebody and two guys named Vernon. I can still hear in my head the line “With two Vernon’s and a Dan, something something Danvers” from a training video we had to watch. Maybe it was two Dans and a Vernon. It was a long time ago. I did my manager training in Memphis at the Shoney’s South offices (which owned Danvers).

    We were the first in ATL to have the 1/3 pound burgers. The roast beef was from a real roast cooked in convection ovens. The ham sammiches were pretty weak. We were also one of the first burger joints with a Salad bar. We introduced a breakfast buffet before Shoney’s did. For a short while, we actually had made to order breakfast with servers. Because the equipment was there, we also had a dinner buffet consisting of mostly canned veggies. There were always two soups and a chili. Originally, the soups were homemade but we moved to frozen.

    Another chain copied many of Danvers moves – I believe it was called Delights or something similar. Better advertising and I thought they were going to run Danvers out of town. The problem was the huge price increase of Beef about that time. It more or less made hamburgers a losing proposition for a while. I think beef prices went from like 60 cents a pound to 99 cents pretty much overnight. Not a lot of money today but imagine your main item rose in price by 50%

  7. Oak Ridge, TN had one in the early 1980’s. I enjoyed eating there, the roast beef was especially fine. 1982-1985 era.

  8. There was one in Lexington KY off Nicholsville road. Their burgers were advertised as 100 percent ground Chuck and they were good.

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