Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Burger Bars

As I sat in a branch of Wimpy recently, enjoying lunch with my son, my mind wandered to thoughts of the way so-called ‘Burger Bars’ have evolved over the years.

As a child, I was never actually bought a burger in a bun – it just wasn’t the big deal that it is now. When I was taken to the Wimpy (in the 70s, though first UK Wimpy opened in 1954), it was to have egg and chips, although people were eating burgers – served on china plates, with knives and forks supplied.

Fast forward to the early 80s, and my first trip to McDonalds (first UK branches opened in 1974). When the ‘golden arches’ were new to our high streets, the emphasis was very much on fast food, the speed of service being of the essence. McDonalds operated a ‘maximum waiting time’ policy – if you waited longer than a specified time for your order then you were given your meal, or at least part of it, free! I was fortunate to gain a few free meals under this policy, which I much appreciated as a struggling student nurse.

This policy seemed to fall by the wayside as more branches of McDonalds opened, fast service was no longer guaranteed, and now you’re lucky if you get a mumbled apology if you’re kept waiting too long at some branches.

McDonalds evolved, adding salads and fruit to their menu, opening ‘drive thrus” (how it pains me to write ‘thru’ and not ‘through’), and seemingly dominating the market.

Meanwhile, other burger bars such as Wimpy and Starburger, have stuck to the plate, knife and fork formula, with waitress service for those eating in, whilst adapting their menus to meet present demands.

In more recent years, I’ve made a fair few visits to McDonalds when giving my son a treat, but as I’m really not a huge fan of burgers, I normally just plump for a ‘Filet-O-Fish’, which I can never quite manage to ask for without tripping over my tongue.

How refreshing then to visit Wimpy after all these years and discover some different menu options. I absolutely love their Hawaiian Toastie (cheese, ham and pineapple) served with a side salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion and crisp lettuce (as opposed to limp, curly leaf) for just £2.70. In fact, my son has now also been tempted by said toastie, abandoning the dreaded burger!

We also lovely the Wimpy milkshakes, creamy without being too thick with a bit of froth on top, served in a real glass. They transport me back to my childhood, when my mum used to take me to the milk bar in our local High Street – all blue tiles, chrome and 60s glamour!

Yes, there certainly have been a few changes to burger bars – but in Wimpy’s case it’s for the better!

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