Lovie Yancey: The Black Woman Who Created The World-Renowned Fatburger
There’s a reason Fatburger is a household name. Yes, it’s the burgers, but it’s also because of Texas native Lovie Yancey.
Many are unaware that the woman who created the brand was Black. Yancey broke borders and founded the eatery, which was originally called Mr. Fatburger, in 1947.
Nearly 75 years later, it is still one of the longest running successful franchises to-date.
Lovie Yancey was born on Jan. 3, 1912, in the small rural town of Bastrop, Texas. In 1931, she welcomed a daughter named Gwendolyn and soon after moved to the big city of Los Angeles.
Yancey collaborated with Charles Simpson, a construction worker, and longtime friend, on a business venture that would mark the beginning of the franchise’s story.
Simpson built a three-stool hamburger stand on Western Avenue in South Central Los Angeles in 1947.
They called it Mr. Fatburger, a play on words using the 1950s lingo “fat” meaning the best, supreme, or top of the line.
In keeping with the theme, the hamburger stand featured retro-styling, from the menus to the jukebox’s music collection.
The Western Ave. location became an overnight success, giving Yancey and Simpson the leverage to open three more locations from 1947 to 1952.
In 1952, the two decided to end their partnership, and Yancey retained ownership of the original location.
She dropped the “Mr.” from the original name and went on to create the blueprint that is still being followed today.
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