Some people went to Harvey Gough's burger joints over the years to get yelled at by Harvey Gough — a rite of passage for Dallasites of a certain age, like, oh, my dad. And some of us went because we deeply and profoundly loved the charcoal-broiled burgers — the No. 2, specifically, and always with cheese. And if you got both, mission accomplished. So long as Mr. Gough didn't lick your spoon.
But come Sunday's end, our days of dining on Gough burgers for whatever reason are done, at least for now: A sign taped to the front of his North Dallas eatery, tucked away in the Preston Valley Shopping Center, says the lease is expired and that Jan. 14 will be the last day of service. Uncharacteristically, there's even a thank-you at the bottom of the sign.
The shuttering of Harvey's Charcoal Burgers, first noted by Crave DFW, marks the end of an era in this town. For the first time since 1950, when his parents opened the first Goff's on Lovers Lane, you won't be able to get a No. 2 or any other flavor of Goffburger unless you're willing to hire a caterer. At one point, there were 13 Goff's around town. But the last remaining restaurant, on Hillcrest Avenue across from SMU, burned down in 2016 and is in the process of being rebuilt.
I called Gough at home Friday, much to his great displeasure; first thing he said was, "Oh, great, a damned media puke," as ever the highlight of my day. But between canned insults, he offered a few honest answers, among them: He's not quite ready to retire for a second time. Said Gough when asked if he's looking around for another spot, which one employee had mentioned, he said, "We've got our eyes open."
Gough, now almost 80, had been out of the burger business for a long time before he took over a former Goff's location at Preston Road and LBJ Freeway. He sold the last Goff's — the one on Lovers, seen below in the Bottle Rocket outtake featuring Gough along with Owen and Luke Wilson and Bob Musgrave but best known as the burger joint with the Vladimir Lenin statue out front — in 2004 to a longtime customer named James Francis III. Francis then moved it to SMU. Gough was there that Friday afternoon in August, watching as his namesake eatery collapsed into a heap of ash and rubble.
Long story short, much like Gough's answers, he got back behind the grill in late 2015 because he figured why not.
"I just missed having something to do instead of doing nothing every day," he said. "Figured I'd try it." And he liked it. So he was there every day; most nights, too. That ends Sunday.
By the way, Gough really doesn't care if you read this or not. He's pretty sure you won't.
"Nobody reads your raggedy [expletive]," he said. "It's just propaganda."
I love Harvey Gough. Almost as much as his damned burgers.