George Webb Restaurants
George Webb Corporation is an American chain of 31 lunch counter-style restaurants in the state of Wisconsin. After starting as a single lunch counter operation, George Webb Restaurants evolved into a chain of full-service family establishments serving made-to-order breakfasts, hamburgers and other sandwiches, soups, chili, and premium blend coffee.
In May 1948, George Webb opened the first "George Webb and Sons" lunch counter on the corner of Ogden and Van Buren Streets on the east side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It began as a family business, with George, his wife Evelyn, and their three sons, Jim, Tom and Bob, all performing various tasks in the restaurant.
In 1953, Jim Webb became the first George Webb franchise owner, when it was suggested by his father that he take over one of the restaurants. In 1957, not long after the business was passed on to his son, George Webb died. Jim Webb took over the management of the company, serving as president during a period of strong growth from the 1960s through the 1980s. In 1985, Jim Webb sold the now thriving chain to Dave Stamm, who had been a franchisee with the company for over 30 years.
In 2005, after leading the company for 20 years, Dave Stamm turned operations over to Whitefish Bay businessman Philip Anderson, who had previously built a national rubber seal distributorship before taking on the task of managing George Webb Restaurants. George Webb celebrated its 60th birthday in 2008, though struggling to make this milestone. The company was in danger of going bankrupt in the middle of 2008. In an effort to get George Webb Restaurants out of the financial crisis, Anderson, who had lent money for the 2005 purchase of the company, pushed out owner Jayne Aliota and took over day-to-day operations. As of 2008, Webb had 40 locations including nine owned by the company.
Later, the ownership of George Webb passed to M&I Bank, which held a loan that financed the business. In mid 2010, Philip Anderson bought Webb's assets from M&I. Webb required franchise operators to sign new agreements to get the franchises in a more typical franchise agreement with standardized menus. In August 2011, six former George Webb restaurants left the chain becoming "Griddlers Cafe".
George Webb was a man noted for his gimmicks, and the restaurants continue that tradition. Locations have signs that display senseless phrases such as "Free rabbit lunch tomorrow", or "pay $10.00 for 1,893 pennies".
George Webb Restaurants are known for displaying two clocks side by side in every restaurant, and there are two stories describing how this came about. One says that Webb originally had a wall full of clocks so that his patrons who used a nearby streetcar service would know the time. He had different clocks set at the current time at different places around the world. The streetcar rattled the clocks so violently that most of the clocks eventually fell off the wall. If you ask at a restaurant, a worker will tell you that there had been a local law stating that no business could be open 24 hours per day. So Webb installed two clocks and set them one minute apart. Technically, the company was closed one minute per day on one clock but not the other and Webb announced that his restaurants were open "23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, seven days a week and on Sundays". Currently, all George Webb locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except on holidays. In the late 50's, there was at least one George Webb Restaurant with the two clocks, with a sign under one, that read "Correct time in the City of Milwaukee", but the other clock had no minute hand nor hour hand, just the "seconds hand" and the sign under that clock read "Correct time for those who no longer care"
George Webb Restaurants are famous for the traditional baseball prediction game that began in the 1940s and continues today. Webb was a baseball fan, and each year he predicted that the minor league Milwaukee Brewers would win 17 straight games. He continued the prediction as a publicity stunt when the Boston Braves (now Atlanta Braves) moved to Milwaukee in 1953. He printed napkins saying "George Webb's predicts the Braves will win 12 straight games." The Braves left Milwaukee for Atlanta in 1965. The Milwaukee Brewers major league club began in 1970 and he continued the promotion. The prediction continued in the 1970s with three 10-game wins streaks. While George Webb never promised to give away free hamburgers if the team won 12 straight games, on April 19, 1987, the Brewers won 12 straight games after a dramatic late inning win and in a three-day time period, 168,194 hamburgers were given away. In addition to their 12 win prediction, George Webb's offers 5 burgers for just $5 when the Brewers score 5 runs or more in ANY game, win or lose, home or away. Offer is valid the moment the 5th run is scored until midnight the following day. For spring training, the promotion is expanded, allowing customers to get the 5 for $5 deal any time during a ten-day period, regardless of the score.
Because of George Webb's commitment to staying open 24 hours a day, combined with the restaurants' reasonably low prices on food and drink, the chain has become a notorious refuge for homeless adults and juveniles. George Webb Restaurants have displayed a "No Loitering" sign in every restaurant, placed a two dollar minimum per person and a 20-minute time limit for a visit, although this rule is not strictly enforced.
- Hajewski, Doris (May 8, 2008). "George Webb marks 60th birthday that almost didn't happen". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- Snyder, Molly (December 18, 2007). "George Webb gets wired". OnMilwaukee.com. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- Hajewski, Doris (August 31, 2011). "Six George Webb restaurants leave the chain". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- "Ask OMC: Why are there two clocks at every George Webb's?". OnMilwaukee.com. September 19, 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- Sandin, Jo (September 22, 1998). "George Webb celebrates with free burgers". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- "Streakers strike at George Webb's". Wauwatosa News-Times. August 24, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-25.