Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Flint Photos: Kewpee's


Randy Gearhart provided this scan of a picture of Kewpee’s at 415 Harrison Street, which appeared in The Flint Journal on April 23, 1989. The photo was taken in ’29 or ’30. According to the caption, the building was originally built in 1923 and was razed in 1979. It's now part of a UM-Flint parking lot. Randy frequented this location often, back in the ‘60s.

17 comments:

  1. My route to the best burger around from my job at A.M. Davison's was through Smith-Bridgman's front door, out the back door, across the alley, and through the Smith-B's annex. JBing50 mentioned Shelly at the counter. (I never would have remembered his name, John, but I can still see and hear him!) No one who ate at Kewpee's could ever forget his gruff voice shouting out the orders and calculating the cost. "That will be $250.00, young man." Which, of course, translated to $2.50. A classic Flint character he was.

    Simply amazing that one can look at this old picture and smell the burgers. I'm getting hungry! :^)

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    1. Someone told me his name was Shelly & he was the brother of Bill Thomas. He was definitely a character!!!

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  2. A good historic picture like this can silently answer questions about an historic time and location. Note trolley stop out front. My Mom and Dad's Kewpee sure wasn't like the one I walked into in my downtown sojourns. Double with olives please... unclebuck

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  3. My cravings for a double with ketchup and olives only and a Boston cooler come at the precise frequency as those I have for 2 up with onions from Angelo's.

    Funny, Big John's just never took hold like that.

    If it can be said that a building is lovable, I truly cherished the old location downtown (no, not the one in the pic ... if unclebuck doesn't remember it, I sure as heck don't) ... the old tile on the exterior, the smells, the sullen old panhandler who always sat in the same booth every morning and griped about the coffee, the Vernor's mural. It made Flint special for a young kid ... no place else like it anywhere.

    For olfactory delight, it was rivaled for me only by Paul's Pipe Shop, the warm peanuts at Sears at Robert T. and Saginaw and Schafer's Drums (yeah, I loved that new drum smell and the mildly musty carpet in that joint).

    Maybe unclebuck can be prevailed upon to tell us about the "wound weenies on a woasted bun" at The Varsity some time, hmmm?

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  4. just remembered my name ... post above is mine (and I'm not even Greek)

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  5. Doug. I got my flat tops at the Varsity (barber shop). I got my coffee and longjohn in the morning before school started at the next door Varsity. I was never available to eat a maligned weenie there, because I was usually at the Capitol Rec. shooting pool by lunchtime,but I did hear talk of them.....unclebuck

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  6. Sure, unclebuck ... your sister-in-law said they were heavenly ... and, as you know, she didn't throw that word around lightly.

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  7. Wow, I swear that you were reading my mind. I was looking at the photos of Jar with Most on flickr and he has some photos of the last Kewpee's in Lansing, Michigan.(still open!!) He also has a photo from the Michigan History Museum and it is of a Kewpee's wrapper. My mother always called Haloburger "Kewpee's" and I never knew why until I found out the story about Bill Thomas and Samuel V. Blair the founder of Kewpee's. Old Sam claimed to have invented the square hamburger in Flint. (in 1923 when he opened Kewpee's-not sure of that...White Castle opened in 1921 and they had square burgers)
    There is one Kewpee's in Racine and a few in Ohio and that is it.

    RoadsideDinerlover

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  8. Check out this link and you will see a old photo of a Lansing MI Kewpee's and the current one in Racine WI.

    http://www.kewpee.com/history.php

    There used to be 2 Lansing MI Kewpee's...I wonder which one this portrays? Anyone know out there??

    RoadsideDinerLover

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  9. check out this book by David G. Hogan "Selling 'em by the sack"
    There is alot of info on Kewpee's there.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=PT6s4ZbznHMC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=Kewpee+Hotel+Hamburgs&source=bl&ots=baMRvAHtsS&sig=0gTapZjgH9b52IM0pc_0CRcxrzI&hl=en&ei=tt-pSsDRCof_nAeixuGkDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=Kewpee%20Hotel%20Hamburgs&f=false



    RoadsideDinerLover

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  10. I'll have a deluxe with heavy olives, Shelly!

    That's exactly what I did most days for lunch during the four years I worked at the Flint Journal.

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  11. Kewpee's main offices used to be in Toledo, Ohio. Now they are in Lima. Three larger locations are here with the original smaller one downtown. The one in Flint on Harrison Street was the best. And they used to heat their buns. They no longer do that here. And the taste has changed from the old days too. I worked at the Capitol theater and we wouldn't allow Kewpees into the theater. The onion smell was overwhelming-smile!

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  12. OMG...I used to work there in 76!

    hahahaha

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  13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kewpee
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_Burger
    Lots of info on Kewpee there including the fact it at one point had 400 locations and was the 2nd chain of hamburger restuarants.

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  14. Anonymous said...

    Check out this link and you will see a old photo of a Lansing MI Kewpee's and the current one in Racine WI.

    http://www.kewpee.com/history.php

    There used to be 2 Lansing MI Kewpee's...I wonder which one this portrays? Anyone know out there??

    That was the East Lansing Kewpees from back in the 1940's. There is a Barnes & Noble there now. The downtown Lansing Kewpees is still open though in a different location. They have a website www.kewpees.com and a facebook fan page.

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  15. The Kewpee on Harrison was "little Kewpee" and the one off Court and Saginaw was "Big Kewpee." Shelly knew everybody. He was Bill Thomas' brother and Terry Thomas' uncle. The only problem with little Kewpee is there wasn't enough parking. Everybody who worked in the stores downtown ate lunch there.

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