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I put this video together for use at Wimpy’s Day (September 19, 2015) at Centenary Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau.

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 Cape Girardeau, a Wimpy's hamburger business began in a small stand next to a filling station located by the entrance to Arena Park. The Wimpy's hamburger stand was first owned by the Bilderbacks in 1935. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Daugherty purchased the business soon after. Around 1940 the filling station went out of business, the Daughertys converted the filling station into an expanded Wimpy's. They put in an efficiency living area in the back. There was a counter with 4 stools for inside dining. Behind the counter was the grill and small kitchen. Curb hops waited on customers in cars outside.

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.


Wimpy's History Gallery

Click on an image to view and navigate larger images.

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

Dining area

The grill where millions of Wimpyburgers were fried.

Grocery store - front entrance to back

Looking toward front entrance from the kitchen

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.

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