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Flint, MI — The Halo Burger on Saginaw Street, the original of the now seven-restaurant franchise in mid-Michigan, opened again Aug. 16 after nearly a year and a half closure due to COVID-19 and renovations.
“This is a really big deal to us,” said Olivia Ross, the chain’s director of marketing, from one of the high top tables near the entrance. “Getting this specific restaurant reopened really was the final step of being like ‘we’re going back to normal,’ you know, turning the page,” she said.
For Flint native Kelvin Skelton, though, the reopening is more of a return home. Skelton said he’s been working for Halo Burger for six years, and though he’d stayed on through the pandemic, he’d been cooking at another one of the chain’s locations until today.
“It’s just another day for me,” he said while waiting to clock in. “I’m happy to be home though, happy to be back in my store.”
Skelton’s store, Halo’s flagship location, may look a bit different than when he last worked here, though.
The back room of the burger restaurant has been renovated, sporting sleek black light fixtures, blue booths, and clean white walls. Ross said the burger spot’s front room underwent careful restoration as well.
“We have been spending the last couple months really putting a lot of work into this restaurant,” said Ross. “For those who aren’t aware, the chandelier is our original to the building,” she pointed up to one of many deco chandeliers hanging from the coffered ceiling, and added that the ceiling and the tiled floors were also original.
“We’ve done a lot of work in keeping the original feel intact,” she said.
Around noon the front room was filled with customers ranging from Genesee County Land Bank workers and excited locals to a gentleman for whom this Halo Burger location holds a special place.
“Oh, I remember it from back when I went to high school in ‘61,” said Mike Messner, sitting with his friend Antwaun Tyler next to the service counter. “This was the spot.”
Messner lives in Arizona now, but he came home to Flint for Back to the Bricks this week. “He comes back every year,” said Tyler, who’d already finished his double cheeseburger.
The two said they’d been debating how long this Halo Burger had been open. Tyler had guessed around 100 years. Messner interjected, “Since 1923!”
Halo Burger’s website confirms it has been around since 1923, though the site adds the store was originally called “Kewpee” and that its first hamburger was served “out of a ‘boxcar’ style wagon on Harrison St. in Downtown Flint.”
Regardless of missing the original opening date by just two years, Tyler did make sure to answer another important question before returning to his conversation with Messner.
“You’re just asking if we enjoyed our meal? Oh yeah, we loved it,” he said.