GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The owner of Butch’s Beach Burritos, Jim "Butch" Thayer, died on Sunday.
His family tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE he was 73.
"He was a kind man. I mean, he acted gruff, but he wasn't," his wife Liz says. "And we were going to be married 54 years in June. And everybody knew knew him in that community and knew he was a teddy bear at heart."
His family members say he was a caring and smart man.
The restaurant's website says Butch's Beach Burritos opened in 1987 and now has two locations in Grand Haven and Spring Lake.
The restaurants are staples in the Grand Haven area and serves customers from all over the state and country.
His son, Steven Thayer, says the community meant a lot to his father.
"If he wasn't here at home, he was at Butch's. He, I mean, just like most people he was at any grocery store and it was his identity," he says. "People would be like, 'Oh, there's Butch. And there's the guy from Butch's.' And you know, it would be a conversation wherever he was or my parents were because of how many people we talked to and interacted with and almost became a part of their life, so to speak on a daily basis."
Butch's Beach Burritos is known not only for its burritos and fresh salsa but also their tacos and hot dogs wrapped in tortillas.
The Thayer family announced Butch's passing on Monday in a post on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Butch's family says he was at the Spring Lake location last week preparing for this season's opening, and he continued working all these years because he cared about the customers.
"Being a part of the community and being able to impact and see, people that actually worked for us grow up and have kids that want to come work for us is, it's kind of an amazing thing," Steven says. "That's the big thing with Butch's is that we all feel part of something because of that restaurant, especially our family, and the customers that come into contact with us. And we get to learn about each other's lives."
Butch's Beach Burritos has been in business for 35 years. The family says they'll update their Facebook page on this season's opening dates for both locations in Spring Lake and Grand Haven, as well as funeral arrangements once those are planned.
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