Inscribe Digital Frank P. Thomas Jr., Donald J. Thomas, and Robert E. Wildman, owners of the General Equipment Company, entered into the fast-food business by opening a 15? hamburger restaurant called Burger Chef in Indianapolis in 1958. General Equipment was a manufacturer of restaurant machinery and built the equipment installed in each Burger Chef store. The partners started their new Burger Chef division to sell more equipment; they never could have imagined that Burger Chef would eventually grow to become the nation?s second-largest hamburger chain and beloved by customers in towns and cities across America. Burger Chef continued in business until 1982, cooking its popular flame-broiled hamburgers and introducing its memorable advertising icons, Burger Chef and Jeff.