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4.2 million served—we’re not talking about the McDonalds burger chain but rather the legendary Hamburger King, a Belton, Texas institution that had its beginnings during the Great Depression. Its burger aroma wafted through the downtown courthouse area, luring hungry citizens to its pale green stand along Central Avenue near East Street.

Hamburger King

Window, Property, Sky, Building

The Hamburger King had several owners, among them Charles Lee McCutcheon and Wes and Eva Coppin. Coppin bought the stand from McCutcheon in the early 1930s and operated it for more than 45 years. After Coppin’s death in 1982, the Coppin family continued to run the stand for another nine years before its closure. Refacing the building to which it was attached resulted in the disappearance of the storefront.

Back in the day, hamburgers were a nickel each or six for a quarter. Marvin Crow described how Wes Coppin prepared his famous hamburgers: “They tasted and smelled so good because he cooked the onion along with the meat. He placed a small ball of meat on his counter, mashed it gently with his burger paddle, placed three fingers worth of finely chopped onion on top, smacked the meat one more time and cooked it all together. He had an old coffee pot of Wesson Oil near his hamburger pan and added a small amount before cooking. The burger paddle was made of a large concrete trowel with the point cut off; one edge was sharpened to slice the bun. Buns were not pre-sliced then. The two half buns sat on the meat as it cooked to warm up and soak up the juices. The burgers cooked slowly over a low flame to give Wesley time to slice tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles. A generous sprinkle of salt and Black pepper and the wrapped burger was handed to you, too hot to eat.”

Belton residents fondly recalled the days of the Hamburger King which so small there was room only for Wes and his wife inside. Although the store was open just three days a week, downtown workers and residents faithfully patronized the establishment, and many days there was a long waiting-line to fill all the orders. Beltonians ate their burgers along the sidewalk in front of the store, and others sat in truck beds. Frances Barkley Willess', whose first job was in a real estate office just above the Hamburger King, wrote, “I would kill for a hamburger that tasted as good as the smell from Wesley Coppin’s hamburger stand on the 4th of July.” Andy Conn reflected that “it was funny as plaintiffs, defendants, and courthouse lawyers were lined up outside their window waiting in line together to get their burger...wonder how many deals were struck waiting in that line?”

Susie Johnson wrote about the Coppins in her column in The Belton Journal: “…Together they built a good, solid reputation as makers of the best hamburgers in the world. From Vietnam to Vermont, from Boston to Belton those hamburgers were famous. They still are. Wes and Eva. They knew and loved everybody, and everybody knew and loved Wes and Eva. Many a person out of work, hungry, and discouraged was quietly given a big hamburger and a coke. No words passed but friendship and understanding did.” One local man summed up the community's feelings about Hamburger King, “When I get to heaven, if they don’t serve Eva’s hamburgers, I’m coming back to Belton.”

All that remains of the site are the memories. The building that Hamburger King was attached to was torn down on April 16, 2019. 

Adams, Tony. Through the Eyes of Legends: Hamburger King, The Belton Journal. June 17, 2017. Accessed March 31st 2020.

Crow, Marvin. Crow's Cafe, The Belton Journal. August 5,1996. Accessed March 31st 2020.

Johnson, Susie. Susie's Corner, The Belton Journal. November 4,1982. Accessed March 31st 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Belton Commercial Historic District