Black History Month Legends: Celebrating Fatburger Restaurant
Today we celebrate a Black legend, Mrs. Lovie Yancey, for giving the world Fatburger restaurant! Thank you, ma'am!
I can remember the first time I visited a Fatburger restaurant, and believe it or not, it wasn't in Vegas (where Fatburger is HUGE)!
Years ago during my early Yakima Valley shenanigans, some radio coworkers and I were treated to a Mariners game, and we carpooled it to the stadium. On the way back home, my coworker, Todd, exclaimed that he wanted to stop in Issaquah at Fatburger's for some grub.
"Oh, I just LOVE their burgers!" I piped in.
"You've been to Fatburger before?" Todd inquired.
"Fatburger? Oh, man, I thought you said FUDDRUCKERS!" I yelled out.
My excuse for the confusion is that I was new to town at the time, so I had never heard of Fatburger. They both end in -er and they both have fresh burgers, so no wonder I had confused it with Fuddrucker's restaurant. Meanwhile, I was definitely NOT disappointed with my Fatburger classic and fries!
I still feel bad for mixing up Fuddruckers with Fatburger though! During the 1990s, my father, Herschel Lee, took my brother and me to a Fuddrucker's restaurant. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, whenever a new restaurant popped up, my dad was one of the first to check it out. I guess he wanted to make sure the new fast-food chains were worthy of having a place in his hometown. (Perhaps that's where I got my love of food from, my Pops!) Herschel Lee would whisk us kids around to the fish fry place (where he would always ask for a discount), White Castle, Krystals, Captain D's, Long John Silvers, Fuddruckers, you name it. But nope, we never had a Fatburger.
You may already know this: Fatburger was created by a Black woman. Lovie Yancey established her restaurant in 1947. Just stop and think about that for a moment.
Lovie had a start-up company during a time when women, especially Black women, were not afforded the civil rights that white people were. Legend has it that Lovie had to hustle extra hard to be a success and give the appearance that her joint was being managed by men, so she originally called her place, Mr. Fatburger. Even though SHE was the brains and beauty behind the operation, Lovie's food was so good, the restaurant was able to expand to a full-fledged empire, and no one cared whether it was owned by a man or not. Thus, Fatburger was born. Black celebrities (including Ray Charles, Redd Foxx) would often stop by to show Lovie's restaurant their support and to get a delicious meal.
There are now Fatburger locations all over the globe, beginning from North America to the continents of Africa to Asia, and Europe!
Check out this cheesy Fatburger commercial from 1998!