Steak n Shake was founded by Gus Belt in Normal in 1934. He converted a gas station / chicken restaurant into the first Steak n Shake with counter seating. The restaurant was so popular, the chain expanded around Central Illinois and eventually into other Midwestern states throughout the 1930s. Gus Belt died in 1954 and his wife Edith continued to run the business until she sold the company in 1969 to Longchamps, Inc, which sold its interests in 1971 to the Franklin Corporation under the direction of Robert Cronin. Cronin and the Franklin Corporation sold the company to E.W. Kelly and Associates in 1981. Steak n Shake is still a functioning company under the direction of Kelly and Associates with 475 restaurants in 22 states.