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Title: Kewpee  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Lima, Ohio, Companies established in 1923, Fast-food franchises, History of the hamburger
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Kewpee, Inc.
Industry Fast Food
Founded Flint, Michigan, U.S., (1923)
Founder Samuel V. Blair
Headquarters Lima, Ohio, United States
Number of locations
5 Restaurants (2010)
3 corporate
2 franchisee[1]
Area served
Midwest United States
Key people
Harrison E. Shutt, President[2]
Myrna Shutt, VP
Scott Shutt, VP & GM[1]
Products Fast food, including hamburgers, french fries, pies, and Frozen Malts
Services franchising
Revenue $6+ million (2009)[1]
Owner Harrison E. Shutt[1]
Website Racine, WI
Lansing, MI

Kewpee Hamburgers is the second known chain of hamburger fast-food restaurants, founded in 1923 in Flint, Michigan under the name "Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs".[1][3] Kewpee's current headquarters is located in Lima, Ohio.[1] The chain is named after the Kewpie doll.[1][4] Kewpee was one of the first to institute curbside service, which later morphed into a drive-in service, and then finally was transformed into drive-thru service.[1][3] Its founder, Samuel V. Blair, also claims to be the first to use the flat bun and developed the "deluxe" hamburger. The Lima Kewpee locations have locally raised beef delivered daily to each Kewpee restaurant.[1] The Kewpee Restaurant in Lima, Ohio is considered a historic site.


  • History 1
  • Slogans 2
  • Locations 3
    • Lima, Ohio 3.1
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Kewpee Hamburgers is a chain of fast-food restaurants founded in 1923 in Flint, Michigan, by Samuel V. Blair[1] under the name "Kewpee Hotel" in a stand.[3]

In Lansing, Michigan, the Weston family has owned and operated the Kewpee's restaurant since it opened in 1923. The Weston family has had as many as two Kewpee restaurants open at one time in Lansing. The Westons are in their fourth generation of operating Kewpee.[4] Kewpee's early plans under Blair and Adams seemed to stay out of major cities. After Prohibition, some Kewpee restaurants added real beer to their staple of root beer, which was on many Kewpee menus joining the standard coffee offerings of other hamburger chains.[3] In 1928, the Lima, Ohio, location opened under the ownership of Hoyt “Stub” Wilson.[1][5] About 200 Kewpee locations existed by 1929.[3] In 1936, with a Kewpee already located in Findlay, Ohio, Wilson opened a restaurant there called Wilson's Sandwich Shop.[5] At its peak just before World War II, there were more than 400 Kewpee restaurants in operation.[3]

Blair, upon his retirement on April 1, 1944, started renting the original location. Blair died in 1945 and licensees continued to lease their locations and paid royalties for use of the Kewpee name from the estate until the Kewpee trademark went up for sale in 1955. The Blair estate owned locations went up for sale in 1958. The original location and the rights to the Kewpee were split up in sale with the original location going to leaser William "Bill" V. Thomas while the trademark went to Ed F. Adams's Kewpee Hotels partnership of Toledo, Ohio.[3][6][7] About 1958, Harrison "Harry" E. Shutt went to work for Wilson at his Lima restaurant.[2] In 1963, the Grand Rapids licensee locations were sold and separated from Kewpee as Mr. Fables.[8]

Ed Adams' partnership, Kewpee Hotels transferred the Kewpee trademark to Kewpee Hotel Systems, Inc. in 1965[7] of which Ed Adams was president.[9] The number of Kewpee locations dropped considerably in 1967 when the Kewpee Hotel Systems, Inc. demanded a full franchising arrangement and a percentage of the profits. The locations which objected either closed or changed their names. The original Flint location changed its name to Bill Thomas' Halo Burger which is still a thriving business,[6] but not at the original location which was torn down in 1979.[10] Hortense M. Adams took over as president of Kewpee Hotel System, Inc. by March 1975.[11] In August 1985, a Kewpee International partnership, (later most likely incorporated as Kewpee of Toledo) led by former Kewpee Hotel System Vice President Robert L. Dane, purchased the Kewpee rights from Kewpee Hotel System, Inc.[12] The Kewpee, Inc. forms in 1969 by Harold J., James F. and Richard E. Meredith based in Lima, Ohio.[13] "The Kewpee, Inc. of Toledo" assigns the trademark of Kewpee to "The Kewpee, Inc."[14] Shutt becomes president in 1970 of Kewpee, Inc.[1] and purchase's Wilson's Lima location upon Wilson's death[5] in 1980.[1]

According to a 2001 interview with Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, as a child, he lived near the intersection of Douglas and Kalamazoo Avenue in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Thomas used to love eating at a Kewpee restaurant, which stood at Burdick and South. He said it was what inspired him to go into the business. Kewpee's sold square hamburgers and thick malt shakes, much like the famous restaurant that Thomas eventually founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969.[1][15]

In January 2010, Kewpee was named to the National Restaurant News 50: All-American Icons list,[16] and the Lima City Council passed a resolution congratulating the company.[17]


Their advertising slogan is: Hamburg pickle on top, makes your heart go flippity-flop![3]

Earlier Slogans
  • "Mity Nice Hamburger".[3]
  • "Your Granpappy ate here"
  • "We cater to all the folks"[1]


Kewpee Hamburgers Downtown, Lima OH.

There are five known remaining Kewpee restaurants, as follows:

  • Kewpee Sandwich Shoppe, Lansing, Michigan
  • Kewpee Sandwich Shop, Racine, Wisconsin[1]

Lima, Ohio


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Whit Smyth (2010-01-24). "Kewpee Hamburgers - Lima, Ohio". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee". Lima City Schools. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hogan, David Gerard (1997). Selling 'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food (1st ed.). NYU Press. p. 50.  
  4. ^ a b Jack Schaberg (October 1, 2005). "Dining Delights". Lansing Business Monthly Magazine. The Greater Lansing Business Monthly, Inc. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Mike Lackey (2008-05-24). "Final words (maybe) on a few recent topics". Lima Freedom Communications, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  6. ^ a b Rauschert, Jeff (2010-12-28). "Halo Burger to be sold by Thomas family to Dortch Enterprises". NBC 25 News. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Ed F. Adams (1965-05-13). "Assignment of Registration". Business Filing Information. Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  8. ^ Rademacher, Tom (September 11, 2008). "Sorry, folks, I can't pry loose the Fables secret". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Ed F. Adams (1965-05-17). "Trademark Renewal Application". Business Filing Information. Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  10. ^ Christy Ryan (2008-04-21). "Halo Burger reluctant to leave in fall" (shtml). Michigan Times ( 
  11. ^ Hortense M. Adams (1975-03-25). "Trademark Renewal Application". Business Filing Information. Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  12. ^ Robert L. Dame (1985-08-15). "Trademark Assignment". Business Filing Information. Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  13. ^ "Articles of Incorporation". State of Ohio. 1969-11-17. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  14. ^ "Assignment of Trademark". State of Ohio. 1985-12-12. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  15. ^ "Wendy's Founder, Dave Thomas, and the Kalamazoo Kewpee". WWMT. Freedom Broadcasting of Michigan, Inc. 2002-01-08. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  16. ^ "NRN 50: All-American Icons". Nation’s Restaurant News. Jan 25, 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "City Council honors Kewpee". The Lima News. February 22, 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 

External links

  • Kewpee, Lima OH MySpace page
  • Kewpee Sandwich Shop, Racine, Wisconsin official web site
  • Kewpee Sandwich Shoppe, Lansing MI official web site
  • A Tasty Part of Flint History
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