Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your Grandpappy Ate Here

For anyone who's family has lived in the upper mid west, that could very well be the case. Kewpee Burgers has been in operation for nearly 90 years making it America's second oldest chain behind White Castle.

Concieved in 1920 in Flilnt, Michigan under the name Kewpee Hotel Hamburgers, Kewpee was named after the popular Kewpee doll of the era. Selling square burgers and thick, malted shakes, Kewpee went on to boast nearly 200 franchises prior to the second world war with their catchy slogan "Hamburg, pickle on top makes your heart go flippity flop". Declining sales, legal wrangling and other problems has reduced the Kewpee foot print to a mere 5 stores now. One in Racine, Wisconson , one in Lansing, Michigan and three in Lima, Ohio. (By the way, it's pronounced Lie~ma like the bean not Lee~ma like the city in Peru.)
Now, I don't like to promote chains here on my blog but I'm always willing to make an exception. In this case it's because Kewpee is a piece of history. Kewpee's square hamburgers and thick shakes may sound familiar. According to Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, as a kid he frequented Kewpee in Kalamazoo and dreamed of owning his own restaurant someday. Of course Dave would go on to make that dream come true and Kewpee's DNA can be seen in the Wendy's franchise.

Our visit to Kewpee was at the "Downtown" Lima location. It's art deco lines reminds of a style lost long ago. The striking white with red trim building still holds it's 1920's charm and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

So on to the food.

We went with the cheeseburgers (mine a double) fries, a bowl of chili and pie for desert.

The burgers are cooked on a flat top ( no wonder they're good) from beef, ground fresh every morning. Topped with American cheese and the toppings of your choice, it has a nice beef taste and is pretty cheap.

As for the rest of the items we sampled, well, they weren't up to the level of the burger.

If you're in the area and have a hankering for a burger, why not stop in for a piece of history.

The downtown Lima location can be found at 111 North Elizabeth St. Lima, Ohio.
Kewpee Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Well that's all for now.


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