ONE morning, while in a very serious editorial conference meeting, the Echo team were discussing Wimpy.
I like to get involved with these sorts of intense and thorough conversations, but I’m afraid on this occasion I simply couldn’t. I have never heard of Wimpy.
“What?!” everybody replied, mouths wide open in disbelief. “How have you never heard of Wimpy?”
And so, it was at this moment, my news editor declared she was going to send me to Dorset’s only Wimpy – across the chain ferry in Swanage.
For those of you who don’t know (like me), Wimpy is a fast-food chain originating from USA in 1934.
Twenty years later, Wimpy made its way to the right side of the pond. But, as the Americans were too fixated on McDonalds and Burger King, Wimpy in the US never really made it.
It serves a menu rather like what you’d find in McDonalds – including burgers, wraps and chicken strips.
With that in mind, I headed to Institute Road to find out what all the fuss is about.
Inside, there’s something of an old-fashioned feel to the furniture and decoration. Certainly not a bad thing – quite charming, I’d say.
I asked owner Mike Katlen what makes Wimpy so special. He said: “We have original, 100 per cent British beef burgers. The meat in the chicken burgers and the beef burgers is very good quality, the best.
“There are about 600 branches in South Africa. There used to be about 600 in this country, but Burger King bought several Wimpy branches to get into this country. That’s why we only have 70 left in the UK.”
Mike added his restaurant can get busy. Very busy. During Swanage Carnival week, Mike said he was so busy he “didn’t even get five minutes’ rest.”
Eager to fill my stomach, I quizzed Mike on what Wimpy’s signature dish is. His response: The Original Quarterpounder with cheese. 613 kcal of unadulterated burger. Washed down with a pint of Pepsi Max. Served with chips. Bliss.
At £5.30 for the burger and chips, the price isn’t bad either.
I sit up like a nosey meerkat as Mike arrives with my food. First bite. Wow. This is better than a McDonald’s or a Burger King. The best way to describe the meat is meaty. It’s quality, cut from a bull that had a happy life.
But the bread is what makes Wimpy a cut above the rest. I’ve never had anything like it. It’s soft and has a freshness unlike any other fast-food chain.
Wimpy is like the Roger Moore era of James Bond. Not as popular as Sean Connery or Daniel Craig (McDonald’s and Burger King), but a million times better.
Overall, I came away from my first time at Wimpy as a satisfied customer. Mike was very welcoming and is clearly passionate about his restaurant.
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