By Tony Adams
When you get roughly 15 Beltonians together for a burger and some sodas, the flavors of times gone by conjures up the legend of the Hamburger King in Downtown Belton.
Richard Archer, Jay Taggart, Dr. Billy Wilbanks, Richard Inman.
Hamburger King, not to be confused with the Burger King franchise, was the old burger stand that was a pale green storefront along Central Avenue near East Street. The stand was on the eastern part of Bell County Courthouse square. It was Belton fixture for more that a half century.
Beltonians, old and young, used to get their hamburgers and have lunch on truck beds and along the sidewalks of town.
Wes Coppin owned and operated the stand for nearly 45 years before his passing. His family continued to run the stand for nine years before closing its windows. The stand stood in town until the re-facing of the building resulted in the razing of the storefront in the mid-80’s. It left a refreshed building and lasting memories of the estimated 4.2 million hamburgers served out of the legendary stand.
From the times of The Great Depression to the times of the growth of the downtown area, Hamburger King’s burger aroma wafted around the downtown area, beckoning the citizens of Belton and its guests to visit the stand and place their order of a patty of heaven.
As the men enjoyed burgers of today from a Belton fixture of its own, Crow’s Burgers, they reminisced about the times back when burgers were a nickel and six for 25 cents. Inflation has escalated the price of a burger to between three and five dollars, let alone the price of six burgers and fries that could price near $40, depending how intricate and exquisite one likes their burger.
Most of the stories that the wonderful men of Belton past shared amongst themselves were funny. In some cases, too funny to print.
But to be in the presence of so many outstanding Beltonians that enjoyed a piece of small-town American restaurant history was a true blessing.