Monday, June 19, 2006

What's the Kingburger connection?

There were once many restaurants in town with Central connections, but like Madison Central High School alumni, their numbers are dwindling. In fact, when I think about it, it's difficult to come up with any names. Surely there are a few -- and some of you will surely be good enough to leave a comment or send me an email, so I can post the names.

Looking through the back of the 1963 Tychoberhan, I found several advertisements from restaurants with strong Central connections:

Weber's at 218 State Street (Mary McGuire Byrne)
Badger Candy Kitchen at 7 West Main Street (Nicholas Galanos)
Coney Island Restaurant at 314 State Street (Thomas Notes Class of 1942)

And then there was the half-page ad for a place I'd completely forgotten about -- and am still not sure I remember: Big "K" Recreation Center - Kingburger Central. As you can see from the copy of the ad reproduced below, there appear to have been two locations: 323 Lake Streets [sic] and 665 University Avenue. However, after a bit of research, I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't a single location at the intersection of University Avenue and North Lake Street. The odd-numbered side of University Avenue is on your left as you're driving out towards Middleton.

In any case, Mr. Herreid and/or the 1963 Tychoberahn's ad staff (Barbara Brockett and Steve Webster, both Class of 1964) convinced three potential members of the Class of 1965 ("potential" because two of these three Shorewood girls transferred to West the next year) to pose for a photograph to accompany the Kingburger ad. And although there is not caption on the photo, I can identify the smiling girls who probably are thinking about something other than the 79¢ perch plate. From left to right are: Barbara Brockett, Nancy Washburn, Sue Seifert, and Virginia Steeper.

In attempting to locate more information about Big "K" Recreation Center, I stumbled across a Doug Moe article about the 50th anniversary of the Kollege Klub, which opened on State Street in 1953. The article mentions that Jack Meier, father of John Meier (Madison East Class of 1947), the original owner of the KK, owned three drive-in restaurants known as "Kingburger." There's also mention of Campus Soda Grill and The Three Bells and a sight line that doesn't quite make sense to me. In any case, I can't figure out the Central connection to Big "K" Recreation Center. So I await your help in solving this mystery.

In the meantime, it's time for me to stop indulging my insomnia and get back to bed. There are many things on my plate Monday -- and none of them are Kingburgers or perch.


D Strand said...

Another Central business was Wehrman's Travel Agency in the middle of State Street owned by Jeff Wehrman's father and later by Jeff himself who lived in the 900 block of East Johnson Street and graduated from Central in 1964. Jeff was an infamous baseball shagger at Breese for many summers retreiving baseballs hit out of the park onto Mifflin Street, Paterson Street, and East Washington Avenue. Even Pat Richter couldn't hit one to Brearly Street, though.

D Strand said...

Yes, it's a shame that Nancy and Ginny became Regents; they were outstanding Centralites!! Virginia had to sit near me sometimes in class because both of our last names started with "St".