Where are Wimpy restaurants in Scotland and what's on the menu - including the bendy in a bun

Wimpy went from a high street staple in the 1970s to almost disappearing from our lives as McDonald's and Burger King took over.

Published 15th Feb 2024
Updated 15 th Feb 2024

It's a blast from the past for many, but did you know that there are still Wimpy fast food outlets in Scotland?

What started in Indiana in America in 1934 was brought over the pond when Wimpy opened its first UK outlet in 1954, at the Lyon’s Corner House on Coventry Street in London. This was the UK's first experience of fast food as it was the first to serve hamburger based meals here.

The London outlet was originally a specialist fast-food section within a more traditional restaurant, but its popularity soon led to the establishment of separate Wimpy sites serving only hamburger-based meals.

While it was fast food, the meals - which were brought to tables - were generally eaten with cutlery. By 1970, the chain had grown to more than 1,000 outlets in 23 countries - including over 500 chains within the UK.

Being the first fast food burger chain in the UK, Wimpy also was the first to have a mascot, Mr Wimpy, who was dressed as a Beefeater.

Wimpy Scotland
The Wimpy Beefeater mascot welcomes guests to a children's party(Photo by Ian Tyas/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Wimpy was also pioneers in 'free from' food as it introduced the first vegetable burger from a fast-food chain – the Spicy Beanburger – in 1985.

In 1997 Wimpy was the first major fast food chain to introduce Quorn products and in 2020 Wimpy added a vegan burger to its menu.

The 1970s saw the arrival of US-grown competition in the form of McDonald’s and Burger King, which first set up shop in London in 1974 and 1977 respectively. These grew in popularity as soon there were outlets across the UK.

The first McDonald's opened in Scotland in Dundee in 1987 with Burger King following suit.

Wimpy once had a presence in towns and cities the length and breadth of Scotland, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Paisley and Peterhead, but these days only a handful remain. Its Peterhead branch closed in 2014, after four decades of trading in the Aberdeenshire town.

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The surviving Wimpy burger bars are in Dingwall, Fraserburgh and Kilmarnock.

Wimpy Scotland
Edinburgh's Queensferry Street once boasted a branch of the burger chain. Picture: TSPL

Wimpy now has just over 60 UK outlets and went into decline when it was taken over by the then Burger King owners in the late 1980s. In order to boost Burger King's success in the UK, they converted over 100 Wimpy's to Burger King outlets.

Due to the lack of waiter service, burger King was faster and was thought to have better training for staff than Wimpy.

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What's on the menu at Wimpy?

Back in the early days of Wimpy, you could get a Wimpy Special Grill for 42p, a Wimpy Burger for 16p; a Wimpy Cheeseburger for 21p; and Wimpy Kingsize for 31p. The famous bender (a frankfurter cut so it could be arranged into a circle, the placed into a bun) was 16 1/2p.

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A dessert of brown derby was 17p and a knickerbocker glory was 25p.

Wimpy Scotland
Wimpy was once a familiar sight on Scotland's high streets. Picture: TSPL

These days the bender is still on the menu, but it's now a bendy with cheese. You can still get Wimpy burgers, cheeseburgers, quarter pounders, chicken burgers as well as breakfast items such as muffins with bacon, egg and hash brown or a sausage and egg muffin.

For dessert, there's sundaes and the brown derby is still available.

Find out more about Wimpy and the menu via their website.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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