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Beloved Houston-area burger restaurants closing -- at least for now

Sunday, May 31, will be the final day to visit the celebrated Bellaire restaurant. The other three spots -- in the Heights, Katy and Missouri City --won't reopen.

HOUSTON — *Editor's Note: Relive the the greatness of Bernie's secret menu in this special throwback clip that was originally published August 2019.*

With a literal school bus inside their building, Bernie's Burger Bus restaurant in Bellaire definitely lives up to its name.

The iconic Houston restaurant has been celebrated among Houston's best burgers for more than a decade -- but as the coronavirus pandemic continues on, Bernie's is out of gas.

Justin Turner, chef and owner of Bernie's Burger Bus, announced Thursday that he's closing the restaurant -- at least for the foreseeable future, he said.

Sunday, May 31, will be the final day Houstonians can visit the flagship restaurant at 5407 Bellaire Boulevard to enjoy one last round of his tasty burgers, fries and milkshakes before the restaurant closes.

The other three locations -- in the Heights, Katy and Missouri City -- hadn't reopened and will remain closed.

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“It is with a heavy heart that I have to communicate this, but with accumulating debt, decreased sales, and the rising cost of doing business, we were starting to move into the danger zone,” Turner said in a statement released Thursday. “I was not going to be able to afford the remaining 10 of 114 staff I had left, and paying my team was more important to me than anything else.” 

He said early construction on a new restaurant in Missouri City depleted his on-hand capital, making it impossible to continue operations during the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.

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Turner said he's going to spend time with his family in the meantime.

"Please continue to follow me on my journey," he said in a statement. "I’m fortunate to have options, and no matter where I go, my remaining staff will be by my side.” 

Bernie’s Burger Bus in Bellaire will be open this Thu., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 31, its final day of service. Direct delivery and curbside pickup is also available via online ordering.