Matt Crunkleton entered the no-frills, no-fries hamburger joint at 1:40 p.m. last Sunday, looked at a sign, and pumped his right hand in triumph.

"We came on the last day. That's awesome," the 23-year-old from Springfield said to his friend, and then ordered five cheeseburgers with ketchup and relish.

If Crunkleton had come around 1 hour and 45 minutes and about 240 burgers later, he would have had to wait until Charlie's Hamburgers reopened on Jan. 16.

The shop, founded in Springfield in 1935 and then relocated to Folsom in 1986, takes a vacation every winter. The time off has decreased over the years from three months to six weeks to 3 1/2 weeks this year - the first time the restaurant will reopen before the Super Bowl.

Charlie's has closed on Tuesdays ever since World War II, when the country had to ration meat.

"Now we do it because, you know, the new definition of tradition: Do it for so long you forget why," owner Steve McDonald said.

Shorter break or not, many turned out last week to get their fix for the year.

"If I owned the place, it'd be open seven days a week, 365 days a year," said Don Robertson, 53, of Ridley, one of the customers who come so often - at least twice a week - that workers know him by name, if not by his order.

Paul Poissant, 46, from State College, Pa., stood behind Robertson in line last weekend. Poissant, who grew up in Media, brings his wife and two children - the third generation of Charlie's goers in his family - to the restaurant whenever he's in town.

"It's the food," Paul Poissant said. "There's just something about the taste of their cheeseburgers that are better than most other places."

The shop, painted blue and white, has 19 stools, two rows of places to sit, and no gift cards, Web site or french fries.

Decorations include a map of Ridley Township from the 1800s, and some black-and-white photos of the place and of the now-deceased original owner, Charlie Convery.

On the milk-shake machine there's a painting of a disheveled, emaciated-looking man walking through a desert, making it to Charlie's, only to find it's closed Tuesdays.

"The atmosphere's kind of cool, too," added Poissant, who called earlier that day to make sure it was open. "It's certainly not a fancy restaurant. But it's got its own style."

If You Go

Charlie's Hamburgers is at 336 Kedron Ave., Folsom. It will reopen on Jan. 16. Call 610-461-4228 for winter hours.