The Mountain State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

Frank and Julia Gonzales are selling their West Side burger joint to general manager Dave Haden, who is set to take over as the new owner of Gonzoburger on Oct. 18.

Although the couple had offered to sell Haden both Gonzo and their nearby Mexican restaurant, Mi Cocina de Amor, which he also manages just around the corner, Haden said he thought he’d have enough on his proverbial plate just taking over one of the restaurants himself at this time.

Which one was an easy choice, he said, since Gonzoburger’s location inside the old Chris’s Hot Dogs storefront on West Washington Street holds a very special place in his heart.

“This place is so amazing,” Haden said, taking a rare break inside the restaurant’s art-filled dining area. “I remember growing up and coming to Chris’s. I always just loved this place.

“I loved the booths and the ceiling and this amazing wood bar,” he said, looking around to take it all in. “To actually work here now and own this place? It really is a dream come true.”

A dream, yes, and a challenge.

“I’m half excited and half scared to death,” he said, with a laugh.

Although the sale won’t be final for a few more days, he’s already looking ahead at what Gonzoburger will look like with him at the helm. Fans of the place can rest assured that it will be pretty much stay the same for the time being.

“I don’t plan to change much at all right now,” he told me. “We’ve built a nice place here with a loyal following and good food. Why come in and mess that up now?”

So the menu will stay largely the same, although Haden said he may eventually introduce specials — possibly bringing back “Wild Card Wednesday,” where a specialty burger was offered each week. He said that and promos like “Fish & Chips Friday” give them a chance to shake things up a bit, since the menu has stayed constant since the restaurant first opened in early 2018.

Stories you might like

“Any time a new restaurant opens, you know there’s going to be a dog on the menu — an item that just doesn’t go over or sell very well, for whatever reason,” Haden said. “You don’t know which one it’s going to be, but you know something is not going to work out.

Surprisingly, he said, not a single burger has been pulled off the menu in the three-plus years Gonzoburger has been in business.

“That tells you we’re doing something right, so I want to keep that momentum going.”

n n n

In other local restaurant news:

The much-anticipated 100% plant-based café I told you about a few weeks ago opens its doors Wednesday. Located at the corner of Virginia and Summers streets in the spot that most recently housed Melange Café, The Loopy Leaf offers an expansive menu of nearly 50 items with additional breakfast offerings to be announced.

I can’t wait to check this place out! For more information and hours, call 681-265-0553 or visit

My favorite Jamaican restaurant has not only reopened after a monthslong closure, but has also moved to a new spot in downtown Charleston. Previously located in Dunbar, Karubees Jamaican Cuisine is now welcoming guests at 714 Lee Street E. on the same block as Sitar of India.

I first discovered this gem some two years ago, and you can read my original review in the Charleston Gazette-Mail at The restaurant is currently open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 304-400-6166 or visit

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy.” He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or Follow @wvfoodguy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Recommended for you