|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Founded||Coventry Street, London (UK) (1954)|
|Founder(s)||Eddie Gold (USA), J. Lyons and Co (UK)|
(hamburgers • chicken • french fries)
|Parent||Famous Brands Limited|
|Website||UK website, South African Website|
Wimpy is the brand name of a chain of fast food restaurants.
The Wimpy brand was created in the 1930s. The name was inspired by the character of J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons created by E. C. Segar. Eddie Gold was running 12 restaurants by the early 1950s, when the concept of fast food came to the attention of the directors of J. Lyons and Co. Lyons licensed the brand for use in the United Kingdom and, in 1954, the first "Wimpy Bar" Lyons was established at the Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street, London. Originally the bar was a special fast-food section within the more traditional Corner House restaurants, but the success soon led to the establishment of separate Wimpy restaurants serving only hamburger-based meals. By 1970 the business had expanded to over a thousand restaurants in 23 countries.
In 1977, the business was acquired by United Biscuits. By the late 1980s, Wimpy was beginning to lose ground to McDonald’s, who had opened their first UK restaurant in 1974, and so the new management of Wimpy began to streamline the business by converting some of the traditional table service restaurants to counter service. In 1989, the business was sold to Grand Metropolitan (now Diageo). Grand Metropolitan had acquired Burger King the previous year and they began to convert the “counter service” restaurants to Burger King restaurants. In 1990, the remaining 220 “table service” restaurants were purchased by a management buy-out backed by 3i. A second management buy-out occurred in 2002.
Although Wimpy outlets have decreased in numbers in the UK, they are still found in many cities, and at seafront/seasonal locations such as Clacton-on-Sea, Clarence Pier in Southsea, Porthcawl Beach, Brean Leisure Park in Somerset and in two locations in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.
Wimpy is the only major fast food chain that offers Quorn burgers on the menu.
On 27 February 2007, Famous Brands, which owns the Wimpy franchise in South Africa, announced that it had acquired Wimpy UK. Having acquired the brand, Famous Brands has re-branded Wimpy in the UK, to bring it in line with Wimpy South Africa. The "new" logo is actually one used by Wimpy UK from the 1960s until the 1980s.
Wimpy has been re-branding and refreshing all its restaurants; the operation commenced on 22 October 2007, with the launch of the new format at the Benfleet, Essex branch. The opening day of the relaunch featured Geoffrey Hayes of the Rainbow television series, dressed as Mr Wimpy. Wimpy features new décor, seating and signage and a return to the original Wimpy colours of red and white. Supporting the new look is an improved menu and a significant marketing campaign.
Outside the United Kingdom
Egypt and Morocco
Wimpy expanded in Egypt through signing several franchise contracts with Egyptian investors. These franchises included: 'Merryland' in Heliopolis, 'Pyramids', 'Shooting Club', 'Hoda Shaarawi', 'Talaat Harb', 'Nasser City', 'Manshyet El Bakry' and many others.
The Merryland branch in Heliopolis was founded by Raafat Sadek Zahran and his sons Bahaa El Din, Samir and Ahmed Raafat Zahran.
There is only one branch still functioning in Cairo, which is the Nasser City branch.
In the 1970s Wimpy also established about three dozen restaurants in different German cities named "Wimpy-Snack". All of them are now closed.
Wimpy was one of the first fast-food restaurants to open in India's post-liberalised economy. With a run of initial success, Wimpy was often touted as the first icon of 'westernization' in India. A few of the remaining restaurants still in business are in the Punjab, India.
Wimpy has been in Ireland on two occasions, in the 1960s and more recently in the early 2000s.
In the 2000s, petrol station chain operator Petrogas took on the master franchise for Ireland, and operated a large number of sites, but they have since ceased to operate them. Most have been replaced by "Grill'n'Fill" own-branded areas, selling virtually identical products, or Burger King, for which Petrogas now has a franchise.
Wimpy was the first overseas fast-food chain to open in Japan; the first branch opened in 1970 in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. In 1992 Wimpy formed a business partnership with Russell's Restaurant Inc. to open a new Russell's chain of hamburger restaurants, but the company withdrew from Japan in 1998.
In 1976, Wimpy opened their first restaurant in Colombia in Bogotá. Branches trading as Wimpy in Germany preceded the U.S. based chains. Other countries with Wimpy restaurants include Guatemala, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Kuwait, Egypt, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Lebanon (Beirut), India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Netherlands, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Japan.
Wimpy was the first international hamburger restaurant in Turkey, in the mid-80s. However, it lost ground to McDonalds and Pizza Hut restaurants opened in Taksim Square, Istanbul and had to shut down its only restaurant in this location.
In Canada, there is a hamburger chain, Wimpy's diner with locations in Ontario but under separate management.
In popular culture
During the 1980s, advertising for the Wimpy chain featured a cartoon character called Mr. Wimpy. He was almost entirely hidden under a large hat, and only a nose and a smile were visible. His physical appearance was a visual pun, as his costume was the red dress uniform of the Beefeaters at the Tower Of London, playing on the beef-oriented nature of the chain's menu. In certain branches, a member of staff would dress up in a Mr. Wimpy costume for pre-arranged children's parties.
Although the Wimpy chain's name was originally inspired by the Wimpy cartoon character in Popeye, the chain's own Mr. Wimpy bore no resemblance to Popeye's Wimpy.
The Dudley Moore character in the cult film Bedazzled (1967) works at a Wimpy Bar.
- "Wimpy Moments". Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- "Wimpy New Format". Wimpy.uk.com. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "Schnelle Dollar". www.spiegel.de. 25 August 1980. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Information on Wimpy's Franchise",Caterer Search. Retrieved on 29 January 2008.
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