We remember Devon's Wimpy restaurants as only two branches remain

By AbbieBray | Posted: March 22, 2017


Have you got any fond memories of Wimpy?

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Following the news that Newton Abbot could be losing its Wimpy restaurant many burger fans have taken to social media to reminisce about their fond memories.

Do you remember the Wimpy shakes or the Bender burger in a bun? And was Wimpy the only burger joint to serve their meals with a knife and fork?

The closure has come as a shock to a lot of residents and its departure will mean that the only Wimpy restaurant left in Devon is the branch in Barnstaple town centre.

Wimpy in Newton Abbot has been a staple in the town since it opened and many residents have fond memories of the fast food chain. Over the years the restaurant has often been a social hang out for teenagers growing up in the town, it has created so many first time jobs and has seen plenty of kids birthday parties.

Following the announcement that plans have gone in for a fish and chip restaurant many people have taken to social media to reminisce about their happy memories of the burger restaurant.

Brian Rowell said "That's disappointing as it's the only one left in the area so I will have to get one last Wimpy before it closes."

Matthew North said he always visits the branch when he visits home and Jon Hottot who lives in Australia said that he is even tempted to come home for one last burger.

Wimpy in Newton Abbot could be replaced by Exmouth-based fish and chip shop, Krispies, who were named as the winner in the From Field to Fryer Award at the 2017 National Fish and Chip Shop Awards.

Now, Tim and Kelly Barnes, who run the shop, are hoping to expand their business and open a new fryer in Newton Abbot when the lease of Wimpy in Queen Street comes to an end in May.

Plans have been submitted to Teignbridge Council for a change of use of the current Wimpy premises in Queen Street.

Read more: A crisp sandwich cafe has opened in Devon and it has vintage packets on the walls

Over the years Wimpy restaurants across Devon have closed and there is plenty about the chain that we all miss.

Joe Bulmer from Bideford remembers having his birthday party as a child at the branch in Bideford which closed around ten years ago (although if you try Googling it you will never find when it actually closed).

He said: "Back in the days when fast food was a foreign concept to folk in North Devon a meal at Wimpy was the height of modern living. I can remember on at least two occasions celebrating my birthday with an official Wimpy party. My primary school friends and I would wear our Sunday best and sit round the Formica tables drinking icy milkshakes from glasses at a frankly alarming rate. We would all order the Bender in a Bun meal but the main event was dessert.

"The two favourites were the Knickerbocker Glory and the Brown Derby with nuts. My personal favourite was the Derby and I would rush through my main to get to the hot doughnut covered in chocolate sauce and cream. The staff would sing happy birthday, we would all leave with at least one balloon and a party bag. I think my parents liked it because the idea of eating with your hands was still a little too uncivilised and, unlike MacDonald's, Wimpy meals were served with a knife and fork. The Wimpy in Bideford is now a bookmakers and I still get a nostalgic pang whenever I pass by."

Barnstaple maybe the last standing Wimpy restaurant, although it wasn't always this way the burger joint also had branches in Westward Ho! And Ilfracombe.

There were also two Wimpy burger restaurants in Torquay, one located on Torre Abbey Sands opposite the beach and the other was on Fleet Street opposite the GPO roundabout.

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Tiverton also lost its Wimpy branch in around 2001 when it was replaced with a fast food chain called Just Burgers. It then went on to close in 2005 and became Marie Curie charity shop which is what it is today.

Exeter also had a Wimpy restaurant located in Mega Bowl which is now called Tenpin. The chain left the bowling alley around 15 years ago and was replaced with an amusement arcade.

Do you remember?

In 1954 the first 'Wimpy Bar' opened at the Lyon's Corner House on Coventry Street, London. The bar was originally a specialist fast-food section within the more traditional Corner House restaurant. Its popularity soon led to the establishment of separate Wimpy restaurants serving only hamburger-based meals.

South Africa got its first taste of the famous Wimpy enjoyment at Murchie's Passage, Durban in 1967. Today, Wimpy is one of the largest and most successful quick service restaurants in South Africa.

By 1970, Wimpy breakfasts and burgers grew in success and expanded to over 1,000 restaurants in 23 countries.

In 1977 Wimpy was acquired by United Biscuits and 'counter service' restaurants opened in response to the opening of McDonald's. Bakers SA Ltd bought the South African division of the company. The Wimpy empire had been split up, for now.

In 1985 Wimpy was the first burger chain to offer a vegetable burger: the original and still the best: Spicy Beanburger.

Read more: A new gin house and cocktail bar is set to open in Exeter

In 1989 the delish Wimpy relish was introduced to the burger range. It was a little bit sweet and tangy.

In 1997 Wimpy was the first restaurant chain in the United Kingdom to offer Quorn based products on its menus.

In 1998 Wimpy became the first company to win the coveted Franchisor and Franchisee of the year awards in the same year.

In 2004 it marked the 50th year of famous Wimpy Excellence, including breakfasts and burgers.

In 2008 Wimpy's 'new look' was introduced.

In 2010 Wimpy had opened 16 'new look' restaurants in the UK.

In 2014 Wimpy UK celebrated being the Home of the Hamburger in style with our franchisees getting into the party spirit by decorating their stores and even welcoming some A-list guests through their doors!

In July 2016 Wimpy launched a new menu in stores across the UK. The four separate menus saw a new approach to food photography and design direction for Wimpy UK and, alongside our iconic burger range, customers could now enjoy a tasty range of salads and 'lighter choice' items.

Read more: Wimpy in Newton Abbot set to close but UK's best fish and chip shop will take its place

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  • High-Flyer | March 22 2017, 6:53PM

    My father opened the third Wimpy in Britain - those were the days