Wimpy’s Corner Redone

Yet another bank is moving onto the corner of Cape Rock Drive and Kingshighway where Wimpy’s used to be. This time it’s First Missouri State Bank. The signs just went up in the last 10 days or so.

Corner of Kingshighway and Cape Rock

Get ready for the rains to come. I see the Southeast Missouri State Fair is due to start Sept. 10. Here’s what the fair looked like in 1964 (including rain).

Here’s how we remember Wimpy’s

You can see photos of Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009 here. I bet a bank never gets the traffic that Wimpy’s did, particularly at night.

21 Replies to “Wimpy’s Corner Redone”

  1. Wimpy’s was the best place to eat back then. WE live on Ranchito DR. So would go there a lot, they had good strew to.

  2. As a teenager I lived in Cape Girardeau from 1965 to 1968. I have a lot of vague memories of that period of time, but I will always remember the fun we had crusing the strip and hanging out at Wimpy’s.

    “God gave us memories, so we could have roses in December” JM Barrie

  3. There will never be another Wimpy’s as I knew it. I lived on Charles street in the 50’s and my girls [and me] loved those Wimpy burgers. That is where I first met Vince Raddle, one of Capes best educators and went on to be your school superintendant. Great guy!
    Joe Whitright “45”

  4. Spent many hours, days, and weeks working there during high school with people like Chuck Knight, Ford Phillips, and, of course, Bill, Frank, and Freeman Lewis. It was a good place to work because the Lewis’ arranged schedules to accommodate most HS activities.

  5. After spending a day on the river boating and waterskiing with my parents, pop would sometimes take us to Wimpy’s for supper. I remember ordering an entire “sleeve” of Wimpy hamburgers and eating everyone of them. Didn’t they also serve cherry- cokes and cherry-vanilla cokes?

  6. Nice shot…and memories by the ton! Bill East in white apron is one of those I have and Mr. Lewis telling us young hoodlum’s to get moving and not stay all night at the parking lot! A great time to be alive and kicking in Cape Girardeau, Mo..
    I sometimes feel sorry for the UTES of today. They have no Wimpy’s or caring adults that would be looking out for them at night. They also have no place like Wimpy’s to hang out all night drinking Cherry Coke or even a Vannila Cokes as you watched the world drive by looking at you and you looking at them…
    Mike Long in his 327, 65 Chevy with no heater…extra weight you know, that would slow you down…or Gary Kinder in his chopped and Channeled flathead Ford V-8 with 3 duces in a pickup body. Nice car…I wonder where it is now? Mike Vogelsang in his 57 Mercury with bad rings that smoked like a bug sprayer. Mike Young had a 66 Corvair Corsa.. Dan Beatty’s brother had a 409 Chevy 64 Black two door with POWERGLIDE….and a score of others…Yes, I remember a few.
    Those were good times…kids now have no life Like we did…

    1. Ken did a car segment early, and missed most of those named above. I believe the Beatty car was Navy. They also had a jet boat that made the Cape to St. Louis Mississippi River run in record time.

      As you seem to know, what was Charlie Duncan’s rod? And, whose ’59 Chevy wagon and ’55 Chevy are parked out front in the photo?

  7. Damn, I looked at the black and white picture and It’s Me in my 65 Ford two door hardtop (Yellow with Black non vinyl top) in the parking lot!
    Dick Luders 64 GTO is parked on the side of the road in front of Wimpy’s with maybe I believe Lynn Miller’s 160 Honda with a crowd around it… wrecked? don’t remember…
    This twice you have a car with me or my mom in a Wimpy’s picture!

  8. The fountain had three sodas–Coke, 7up, root beer, and non-carbonated orange. Cherry and vanilla syrups were available, so you could have you choice of both in Coke or 7Up. If you wanted chocolate milk, we had to use the chocolate syrup in white milk. Using plain carbonated water, we could make cream or cherry sodas, better known as phosphates.

    We used to to experiment with different flavors trying to match Dr. Pepper. Came close a couple of times, but most combos were horrible–imagine a chocolate 7Up, although the orange 7Up wasn’t too bad, just flat.

    You had your choice of hamburger and cheeseburger condiments, as long as you picked onion, mustard, relish, and/or ketchup.

    If you watch Food Network, you’ll hear them rave about about restaurants that slice real potatoes, cover them in cold water and refrigerate, then pre-fry, and final-frying each order as it came in. Wimpy’s was doing that long before most of today’s cooks and food critics were born.

    Wimpy’s-Red Dagger story. My junior year I was in “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay”. Lee Dahringer was in a scene where he kissed Shari Stiver. We made a quick trip to Wimpy’s for a french fry tray full of sliced onions, which he downed just before the scene.

    Ah, a simpler time and place when “gay” had a different meaning and pranks did not involve bloodshed!

    1. Bill,
      I had an off-line comment from an anonymous reader:

      “I sure don’t remember that kiss though. Must have thought it was normal for Lee or something…. ”

      Ouch! That stings.

  9. My father, Freeman Lewis, was one of the owners, and I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. I remember Bill East (Hi Bill!) , Ford Phillips, Chuck Knight, S.E. Lewis, And the cooks – Shirley, Bessie and Nettie, and Mrs. Reid. Vince Raddle was the butcher for a few years. One waitress, Helen, followed my Uncle Bill to the Wimpys he opened on South Kingshighway a year after this one was sold to Farmers and Merchants Bank. I have an index card box full of cards with the names of employees.

    And there was the weekday morning coffee group, usually headed by Rush Limbaugh, Jr., and my grandfather, Ted Regenhardt. Rush spent a lot of time talking at Wimpys…his son figured out how to make a career of talking on the radio.

    Janet Esicar (Blake’s wife), a VP with First Missouri Bank, contacted my father and I, wanting to place photos of Wimpy’s in their new building. I met with her on one of my trips to Cape in April, and she picked out a couple, which I printed out and brought back my next trip to Cape in late May.

    I have a page on my family history website on the history of Wimpys… robsgenealogy.com/wimpys_history/wimpys_history.htm

    Ken, I would like to see if you would share some of your photos of Wimpys with me that I could use on my website. I’ll include a credit!

    1. I’ve seen your website, and the photos brought back a lot of good memories.

      I couldn’t remember the other cooks names, but seeing Bessie’s name brought back other memories. in the late 40s and early 50s my grandparents owned the West Mount Gardens Motel (corner of Hopper and Kingshighway)that included a restaurant. Bessie was one of the cooks there. I had free rein and, according to my grandmother, sampled the pies she and Bessie made. I remember reminiscing with her when we worked at Wimpy’s.

      Another connection between the two restaurants was long-time customer of both places was Roy Lewis. He sat in the same seat every day–end of the counter by the kitchen–and had the same thing for lunch and dinner, a bowl of the beef stew.

      I had a nice chat with your grandmother in April at Ford & Sons. I was glad to hear Freeman is still with us.

  10. Another memory from Wimpy’s that illustrates how things have changed since the 60s.

    One night the police raided (flashing lights and all) the house behind Wimpy’s, which was owned by the Lewis family and was rented to college students. One of the students was “entertaining” a young woman, and the police came to “rescue” her. Seems she was the daughter of a prominent local minister. Yes, I know who, but the names are deleted to protect the innocent.

  11. A couple of other names i remember…Ed Arnzen and Frank Rayburn. It’s easier to remember those that worked there for a longer period of time…..the few who started at 16 while and high school and continued through their 4 years at SEMO.

    The turnover rate of employees was pretty high.

    One night Dad and I stopped at Wimpys after a SEMO basketball game. We heard that 2 police officers had been shot just a couple of blocks up Kingshighway.

    The house behind Wimpys was the home of my grandparents, Fred and Ethel Lewis, who were the bosses when they were around.

  12. I stumbled across your web site by accident; love the Wimpys Corner. I moved to Cape in 1959. Interviewed with Frank Lewis for a carhop job that summer. Lied about my age. I was only 13; you had to be 16 to be covered by the insurance. After I had been there about a year, I told Bill and Freeman my real age and they let me stay because they liked my work. I entered Central High that Fall and worked at Wimpys for the next eight years — all through high school and four years at SEMO. I actually worked at Wimpys for three months after I got my first teaching position. Most people only worked there for a year or less. I remember fondly Bill East, Mark Campbell, S.E. Lewis and my cousin Charles Knight and many others who worked there for three or four years. I sincerely attribute much of the success I have had in my life to my Wimpys work experience. What I learned from dealing face-to-face with the public at Wimpys has served me better than my MA in American Literature from SEMO. I have nothing but pleasant memories from Wimpys and the Lewis brothers. I thoroughly enjoyed Robbie Lewis’ photo history of Wmpys. What I wouldn’t give for a Wimpyburger and an order of their home made french fries right now!

  13. I was a curb hop at Wimpy’s and was working the night of the shooting. I was just north of Wimpy’s and I actually saw the gun fire from some of the shots. The mwn were going to rob the Kroger in the town Plaza and the police caught up with them just north of Wimpy’s.

  14. Some typeing error’s I was on the Wimpy parking lot when the shots were fired and I did actually see some of the gun fire which happened just north of Wimpy’s.

  15. I worked at Wimpy’s Wigwam while going to SEMO and lived at the Sigma Chi house across the street, long commute. But have great memories working with Bill and loved my Wimpy burgers. That is until Jerry Davis and I opened Shakey’s Pizza. What a great time, in cape in the 60’s. You do a great job Ken.

  16. wimpy’s was one of the places i would go to when visiting my grand parents and cousin and aunts when my family would travel from lafayette, in. cape always bring backs great memories of past years and is the place where i ment by future wife, leta, who graduated from cape central in 1957 along with my cousin judy. the blue hole was another place the require several visits to eat toasted bq. i wish i could visit them again from vermont.

  17. Toward the end of the Wimpy’s reign, when I worked there very late 1960’s and early ’70’s, I recall a couple more of their cooks, including Alice Carnell, Helen (?), and Mike Pohlmann, as well as a couple long-time co-curb hops in Randy Ressell and Frank (?).

  18. When I was about 7 or 8 or maybe younger, my family lived in a small apartment right by Wimpy’s. I would go into Wimpy’s and spin round and round on their counter chairs. That would have been maybe around 1959. I have happy memories from being in Wimpy’s. Thank you for the pictures and information!

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