Menu sparks tasty mem­o­ries of Wimpy

Midweek Visiter - - Rotary Round- Up -

WE came across this Wimpy menu from 1972 the other day and be­gan rem­i­nisc­ing about the lo­cal Wimpy restau­rants which used to be on Nevill Street and Lord Street.

The Wimpy chain orig­i­nally be­gan in 1934 in the United States and was based in Chicago.

The brand was in­tro­duced to the United King­dom in 1954 as Wimpy Bar by Lyons and the first un­der that name was es­tab­lished at the Lyons Cor­ner House in Coven­try Street, Lon­don.

Orig­i­nally, the bar was a spe­cial fast food sec­tion within tra­di­tional Cor­ner House restau­rants, but the suc­cess soon led to the es­tab­lish­ment of sep­a­rate Wimpy restau­rants serv­ing only ham­burg­er­based meals.

In 1955 the Wash­ing­ton Post wrote about the re­cent open­ing of a ‘Wimpy’s Ham­burger Par­lor’ on Coven­try Street and about the in­flu­ence of Amer­i­can cul­ture on the Bri­tish.

“Food served at the ta­ble within ten min­utes of ordering and with atomic age ef­fi­ciency. “No cut­lery needed or given. “Drinks served in a bot­tle with a straw.

“Condi­ments in pre-pack­aged sin­gle serv­ing pack­ets.”

In ad­di­tion to fa­mil­iar Wimpy burg­ers and milk­shakes, the Bri­tish fran­chise ini­tially had served ham or sar­dine rolls called tor­pe­does and a cold frank­furter with pick­led cu­cum­ber sand­wiches called Fred­dies.

Bizarrely dur­ing the 1970s Wimpy re­fused en­try to women on their own af­ter mid­night.

This may be be­cause of an as­sump­tion that they might be pros­ti­tutes!

Here in Southport the first Wimpy was run by a Yu­gosla­vian man named Pane Sor­maz, who had set­tled in Southport in 1956 and had be­come known lo­cally as Bar­ney.

Bar­ney was well known in the town, orig­i­nally from work­ing in the El Ca­bala cof­fee house on East­bank Street in the 1960s, and then for run­ning the town’s Wimpy restau­rants.

He man­aged the Wimpy on Nevill Street for 17 years, be­fore open­ing another on Lord Street, where he worked un­til his re­tire­ment in 1993.

By 1970, Wimpys had hit its com­mer­cial peak and ex­panded to over 1,000 restau­rants in 23 coun­tries.

Sadly, by the end of the 1980s, Wimpy was begin­ning to lose ground to McDon­ald’s 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 June 2017, only 80 Wimpy restau­rants re­main in the United King­dom, down from over 500 dur­ing its height in the 1970s.

To­day, the only re­main­ing Wimpy within 50 miles of Southport is to be found at 31 Princes Pave­ment in Birken­head.

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