My father, Freeman Lewis, owned Wimpy’s Drive-In and Grocery store from 1942 to 1973 along with his parents, Fred and Ethel Lewis and brothers Frank and Bill.
We broke out the secret Wimpyburger recipe to sell Wimpyburgers as a fundraiser for the church.
Wimpy’s had a major impact on the community. Hundreds of high school and college students were employed by Wimpy’s over it’s 31 year existence. Ten former employees came to the event and visited with the Lewis family.
We served about 1,000 Wimpyburgers during the 3 hour event. Wimpy’s may have served 400 on a very busy day.
We had excellent coverage of the event:
Fred Lynch Blog with the SE Missourian
SE Missourian Photo Gallery
Ford Phillips, a former employee, wrote this Letter to the Editor.
Ken Steinhoff’s Gape Girardeau History and Photos Blog
Also see on this website:
History of Wimpys, the Lewis family business 1942 - 1973 in Cape Girardeau.
In May 1942 my father Freeman and his friend Bill Magill stopped in to have a hamburger. When Dad was talking to Mrs. Daughtery, she mentioned she wanted to sell the business for $800. Dad and his mother and father talked it over and decided they would see if they could raise the money. They did, and took over that summer. Dad was 19. The building was being rented from the city of Cape Girardeau for $30 a month.
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Late 1930s photo of the gas station in front of Arena Park that would be converted into the first Wimpy's. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Daughtery owned the Wimpy's stand to the right of the filling station.
Another photo of the original Wimpy's stand.
Fred Lewis and son Bill in front of Wimpy's, now in the converted gas station building. This building was leased by the Lewises from the city of Cape Girardeau in 1942. Photo taken in 1944. The vertical bars to the left of the cents symbols were a sign support for the price of a Wimpyburger. When the photo was taken, they were soon to be installing the number 7. My father was serving in the Army Air Force in WW II when this photo was taken.
A grocery store has been added to the right - 1946. Freeman Lewis returned from WW II in January 1946. His father and mother and younger brother Bill operated the business while he was in service. His older brother Frank returned from WW II and worked for the Astatic Corporation in Conneaut, Ohio until his mother persuaded him and his family to return to Cape in 1948 to help run Wimpy's.
In 1947, the city informed them that they wanted to terminate the lease to tear down the building to build a new entrance to Arena Park. My dad found out that this building, across the highway, was for sale. Originally Haman's Sandwich Shop, it was now a car repair shop, Kuykendall's Garage. The Lewis family bought this building and remodeled it while still serving Wimpyburgers in the original service station building.
My father Freeman Lewis in front of the new Wimpy's, 1947 - after conversion from Kuykendall's Garage.
Wimpy's 1949 Remodel
Wimpy's - 1965
Wimpy's - 1967
The grill where millions of Wimpyburgers were fried.
Grocery store - front entrance to back
Looking toward front entrance from the kitchen
Butcher shop - here a full time butcher would cut up a side of beef, turn it into ground beef, and use the green colored machine in the center to automatically press into hamburger patties. The finer cuts of the beef were sold out of the meat case to grocery store customers
Wimpy's - 1973 - after it was closed
Wimpy's Skyway - in the Cape Municipal Airport terminal 1960 - 1968.
Wimpy's Wigwam - 1961 - 1969.