The other day I drove to my local McD0nalds. The place is closing for two weeks due to extensive renovations. I guess even in a recession people will still want their burger fix. It got me thinking about my first burger experience, years before that American fast food invasion hit the UK. This was a Wimpy burger from the UK’s own burger chain.
Named after J.Wellington Wimpy in Popeye cartoons. When served burgers he would say “I will gladly pay you Tuesday” he wasn’t stupid. Established in 1954 the Wimpy chain gladly served great tasting burgers with real chips, with knifes and forks. There was waitress service, and the burgers were cooked on a griddle to order.
At it’s height the chain had one thousand outlets in twenty three countries, good grief a British burger was taking on the world! But then in 1977 Wimpy Bar introduced a counter service, copying McDonalds which had just opened in the UK. The hammer blow was delivered in 1989 when the Wimpy Bar chain was sold to a group that also owned Burger King, an American rival to McDonalds.
Most Wimpy Bars morphed into Burger King and the remaining outlets shrank into the side streets run by independent franchises. The American chains introduced real fast food service and established themselves on every high street.
A few years ago I railroaded my family into a Wimpy Bar while on holiday. The experience was not the same as I remember, the food was average and the place was a copy of any American fast food outlet.
Wimpy was originally opened in a corner of Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street, London offering friendliness, quality, value and service. The same philosophy endorsed by ‘In & Out Burger‘ a highly successful fast food chain operating in South Western USA.
I think the bottom line is, the Wimpy Bar chain didn’t serve fast enough. Shame, nowadays I don’t need ‘Fast’, if I ever did!
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