11/29/09: Lot-A-Burger: Memphis Locations of A Forgotten Chain

When I was younger, Memphis used to have Whataburger locations, one in Frayser and one in Whitehaven (both have since closed). But even before that, there was (and still is) Lot-A-Burger, a couple of walk-up burger stands, one on South Third and one on North Thomas near that historic corner where Elvis recorded at American Sound, and Bobby Foster and Bowlegs Miller recorded at Select-o-Sound on Chelsea. Perhaps they even ate a Lot-A-Burger! But it wasn’t until I began doing research toward my history of Memphis during the mayoral term of William B. Ingram (1963-1967) that I discovered advertisements for Lot-A-Burger in Memphis, bearing the slogan “A Square Meal On A Round Bun.” That led me to other interesting information online, namely that the Memphis Lot-A-Burgers were, at least at one time, franchises of a Tulsa, Oklahoma based Lot-A-Burger chain which began in 1951, long before McDonalds, or rock-and-roll for that matter. The Oklahoma locations still exist, and anyone interested can read about the chain at http://lotaburgernow.com. The Memphis locations that are still open do not appear on the company’s location list, suggesting that somewhere back in the day they went their separate way. But this afternoon, I tried a Lot-A-Burger at the South Third location in Memphis. The Lot-A-Burger was an old-fashioned, thin, greasy good burger with cheese in a no-frills setting. You walk up and order, then eat it on the wooden benches out front or take it home. Not outstanding, but good and comforting, and an edible piece of Memphis history.

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