Last Wimpy’s Bites the Dust

Generations of Cape Girardeans came of age at Wimpy’s. For most of us it was the grocery store / hamburger joint at the corner of Cape Rock and Kingshighway shown here in this 1966 time exposure. You can see more Wimpy’s photos over the ages and read some interesting comments at my Feb. 8, 2010, posting.

The first Wimpy’s opened in 1942 on the west side of North Kingshighway, near the entrance to Arena Park. Fred and Ethel Lewis ran the establishment while their sons, Freeman and Frank were in the service in World War II.

The youngest brother, Billie (Bill) joined the family business when it moved to the Cape Rock location in 1947. It was a teenage hangout until 1972, when the property was sold to a bank in 1973.

Wimpy’s Skyway Restaurant opened at the Cape Airport in 1960, expanded from 12 to 25 seats in 1961, then closed in 1967.

Moved to 506 S. Kingshighway

Bill opened a new Wimpy’s at 506 S. Kingshighway after the Cape Rock location closed. He catered to the breakfast and lunch crowd.

In the late 90s, Gary and Diane Garner, shown above, had a car lot on Morgan Oak. They heard rumors that a new bridge was going to be built. “OK, we’re done,” he said they thought.

They happened to hear that the woman who owned the Wimpy’s building wanted to sell it after the restaurant closed in 1997, so they moved Gary’s Car and Truck Sales there. I shot this photo Oct. 26, 2009, and didn’t think about running it until Ray Boren (Class of 55) posted a photo and note to a Central newsletter showing that the building had been torn down.

I searched through The Missourian for a story, but couldn’t find anything that would tell what the land will be used for.

All we have left are memories

With the razing of the last Wimpy’s, looks like all we have left will be memories of seven-cent hamburgers, cherry Cokes and endless loops between Wimpy’s and Pfisters.

Lewis Brothers’ obituaries

11 Replies to “Last Wimpy’s Bites the Dust”

  1. In the early 60’s it was Bingo BBQ. Notice the little squares on the wall( like a bingo card ) above the words cars and trucks. In the late 60’s it was a fried chicken place.

  2. Forgotten in the listing of the Wimpy’s franchise is the Wig Wam. While the Lewis Brothers targted the college student market at its location next to the Playdium, for two memorable summers it served as the primary pick-up point for carless Cape males seeking liasons with Southeast Missouri females enjoying the a week-long escape from their parents at Band Camp.

  3. So you know it was torn down and a new car sales office is up and almost ready to go. Show me motors is moving up to the lot as far as I have heard…..

    1. Ray Boren posted a photo of a pile of rubble on one of the Central High School email newsletters. He thought a car lot was moving there, but he wasn’t sure.

      I’m back in FL, so I couldn’t shoot an updated photo.

      I saw that you had a duplicate posting, so I removed one of them. Sometimes you have to hit Ctrl-F5 to refresh your browser to see updates, by the way.

  4. Ahhh, french fries and vanilla cokes after school and the best place to see everyone, even tho you just saw them at school– I miss Wimpys!

  5. The Wimpy’s at the entrance to Arena Park was not just enjoyed by young people. After my husband’s Grandfather Ed Neumeyer was retired by MO Utilities at age 65, he went to work for Schott Electric. One of Grandpa Ed’s rituals was his daily walk down to Wimpy’s for lunch. He did this into his 80’s. Our memory is that he really liked the chili and a Pepsi.

  6. As a corollary of sorts, though I have not retained specific Wimpy’s taste memories, the beans at Pfisters and the pork fritter sandwiches and root beer freezes at Dari-Castle – just North of Wimpy’s, on Kingshighway – linger to this day.

    1. My family (Ross Young) owned the building where the last Wimpys was located. Dad rented the space to his brother-in-law Bill Lewis.

  7. So many stories, so little time. Nothing quite like dipping a Hostess Twinkie into one of the Wimpy’s chocolate shakes.

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