Burgers, Beer and Books



Dave Fuller smiled as he pinned a poster of the UK football team on a wall in his restaurant.

“We took that down until they beat South Carolina,” he said.

Of course, Fuller was joking. His restaurant, Charlie Brown’s on Euclid, has enjoyed a close relationship with UK for years.

“A bunch of the coaches come in here,” Fuller said. “We have athletes from time to time. We support UK.”

And UK supports him. Fuller thinks his restaurant is popular with students because it serves the full menu until late, has two happy hours and has a relaxed ambiance.

“We’ve always had a great late night crowd,” Fuller said. “We’ve always served food late.” The restaurant serves the full menu until closing, which is midnight on Sundays, 12:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Fuller describes Charlie Brown’s, known for its comfortable atmosphere and unusual decor, as “a relaxed, rustic atmosphere.” The restaurant is always dimly lit and feels more like a den or living room than a restaurant.

“We have fire places, sofas and love seats inside,” Fuller said.”There are no windows.” The restaurant also has an outdoor patio. Charlie Brown’s plays music from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s and has a free juke box. There are old coke signs on the wall and a 60-year-old cash register behind the bar. The atmosphere is old-fashioned, but it seems to attract young people.

“It’s a nice place to bring a date,” Fuller said. “We’ve had a lot of first dates and proposals over the years.” He thinks the casual seating makes for a more comfortable first date.The food is also a hit.

“My favorite is the grilled or blackened tuna salad,” Fuller said. He said the cheddar burger has always been a best-seller. The restaurant has added 13 new items to the menu in the last six months, including a bison burger, and has sold them successfully enough to keep them all.

Fuller attributes some of the restaurant’s appeal to its staff members, who are familiar with the menu. “We have a bunch of people behind the counter who have worked for three to 17 years,” Fuller said. He knows his employees and keeps in touch with some of the people who no longer work for him.

Charlie Brown’s is perhaps most widely known for the hundreds of books that line its walls. “We have about 1,500 books out there that have been here for 27 years,” Fuller said.

Fuller said that the books moved into the restaurant when he and his business partner Larry Ellington bought the restau

rant from the bank 27 years ago. He said they added the books “just for the look.”

The books have become an integral part of the restaurant’s image.

“People can take books if they bring one in to replace it, so it’s a conversation piece,” Fuller said. He said the books are not in any particular arrangement, and are constantly moving around the restaurant as people take and replace them. “They’ve been moved around and rotated a lot,” Fuller said.

Some of the book movement has been caused by people looking for something rumored to be hidden in one of the 1,500 books.

“There is supposed to be a hundred dollar bill in one of the books,” Fuller said. He quietly acknowledged that it is true that he and his partner hid the bill years ago.

“They’ve looked for it but haven’t found it,” Fuller said.

To Fuller, however, the books hold a much more precious treasure: the memory of a business partner and friend. Ellington died two years ago, ending a long-term business partnership.

“We miss him,” Fuller said. “He was very much a part of this place.”

The books serve as a reminder of Ellington to Fuller. “My partner used to say this all the time:” Fuller said, “’If I haven’t read one of those books, my partner has.’ So they were either read by Larry Ellington or Dave Fuller.”

The timeless power of friendship has kept the rustic restaurant fresh throughout its years of operation. Fuller said his business partner also became his friend. “That’s hard to do this day and time,” Fuller said. “A lot of people became enemies when they work together.”