Eli Stevens

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Eli Tom Stevens (born March 15, 1936 in Birmingham; died November 14, 2020 in Birmingham) was the long-time owner of Lloyd's restaurant on U.S. Highway 280 and, later, co-owner of the Hamburger Heaven fast food chain.

Eli was the son of Tom Stevens, founder of the Home Baking Company. He grew up in Norwood and attended Norwood Elementary School and Phillips High School. At Auburn University he played briefly for coach Shug Jordan's football team and became close friends with defensive back and punter Billy Atkins.

Stevens and Atkins married sisters Patricia and Doris Miller, respectively, of Alexander City. After earning his business degree, Stevens moved back to Birmingham, where he co-owned and operated the Domino Lounge on 29th Avenue South in Homewood.

Stevens served in the Alabama National Guard's 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and was activated for duty in Germany during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. After completing his service he went to work for his father. He got to know Lloyd Chesser while delivering bread to his landmark restaurant and expressed interest in buying him out when he retired. When the day came, Stevens dawdled and nearly missed the opportunity, but for Pat intervening with Margaret Chesser to close the deal.

Stevens took over Lloyd's Restaurant in 1971. He added Greek-style chicken to the menu, and relocated the business from Chelsea to Inverness when Highway 280 was reconfigured in 1978. His property included a large wooded parcel behind the restaurant where the present Wal-Mart was constructed behind. He resisted selling the property, where he practiced his golf swing and let his dogs run. He made an arrangement with North Carolina Christmas tree farmer Bob Daniels to let him use one of the adjacent lots each year to sell trees.

Stevens joined with his daughter Mary and her husband Pete Flach to buy the Hamburger Heaven chain after the death of founder Jack Caddell in 1992.

Stevens was an active member of Holy Trinity Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the Monday Morning Quarterback Club.

Stevens stepped back from actively running Lloyd's after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and later with brain tumors. He died in November 2020. He was survived by his wife; four children; Tom, Bogue, Mary, and Leila; and 10 grandchildren. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

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