Wimpy (restaurant)

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This article is about the UK hamburger chain. For the unrelated Canadian chain, see Wimpys Diner. For other uses, see Wimpy.
Wimpy
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Restaurants
Founded Coventry Street, London (UK) (1954)
Founder Eddie Gold (US), J. Lyons and Co (UK)
Products Fast Food
(hamburgers • chicken • french fries)
Parent Famous Brands Limited
Slogan There's a Wimpy moment in every day. Enjoy every moment.
Website UK website, South African Website

Wimpy is the brand name of a chain of fast food restaurants.

History[edit]

A Wimpy restaurant in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
A Wimpy restaurant in Ryde, Isle of Wight with the previous logo.

Originally called Wimpy Grills, the Wimpy brand was created in 1934 by Eddie Gold. The name was inspired by the character of J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons created by E. C. Segar. According to a 1978 Chicago Tribune article, Gold's company Wimpy Grills Inc. of Chicago had a maximum of 25 locations in the United States at its height but only seven locations remained at the time of his death in 1977.[1]

In 1954, Gold sold a licence to J. Lyons and Co to use the Wimpy name in the United Kingdom.[2][3] Subsequently, in 1957, Wimpy Grills Inc. of Chicago formed a joint company with J. Lyons and Co called Wimpy's International to operate Wimpy Grills in the rest of the world.[4] The joint company eventually grew to 1,500 locations and Gold later sold his share to Lyons prior to his death.[1]

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.[5] 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.[5]

In 1977, the business was acquired by United Biscuits. According to the Chicago Tribune, when Gold died in 1978, the chain vanished within the United States because no one had purchased the rights and trademark to the Wimpy name from Gold's estate.[1] 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.

Mr. Wimpy[edit]

Mr. Wimpy computer game

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.

Mr. Wimpy also appeared in an official computer game by Ocean Software, released in 1984 on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and other formats.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lazarus, Geoge (July 28, 1978). "Wimpy's for sale; is there 2d Ray Kroc?". Chicago Tribune. p. D9.  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  2. ^ "Edward V. Gold, `Wimpy' Entrepreneur". Washington Post. October 17, 1977. p. C6. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  3. ^ "Edward V. Gold, 70, the Founder Of the Wimpy's Restaurant Chain". New York Times. October 16, 1977. p. 42. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  4. ^ "Restaurant Chain Formed". New York Times. April 5, 1957. p. 50. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  5. ^ a b "Wimpy Moments". Retrieved 1 July 2010. [dead link]

External links[edit]