This Tulare culinary institution ready to bring its killer fries to Visalia
Wimpy’s Hamburger, Tulare’s beloved eatery, will open a new location in downtown Visalia, bringing with it seasoned fries and tasty burgers.
With the downtown Visalia location, Wimpy’s Hamburger will have three locations. A location in Dinuba opened in December.
Willy Espinoza, the eatery’s new co-owner, said opening the location in Visalia will bring an additional choice for those who frequent the vibrant downtown.
“We have always liked downtown Visalia,” he said. “It’s a place where there are a lot of people walking around. There’s nothing like this in the area.”
Espinoza and his brother, Duval, bought the Tulare location two years from Aziz Attaran, who owned the eatery for 14 years.
The brothers, whose family has been in the restaurant business for 25 years, wanted to take on hamburger joints.
“We had the great opportunity of buying the Tulare location,” Willy Espinoza said.
Duval Espinoza first contacted Attaran a year before the transaction was completed in 2016, he said. The first conversation was short, with additional meetings until an agreement was reached.
“They are good people,” he said.
After the purchase was made, the Tulare location maintained the same employees, a move that was promised to Attaran. Under the new management, Tulare’s Wimpy’s Hamburgers is thriving.
When the Dinuba location opened, Willy Espinoza said he had the cooks from the Tulare location train the new personnel.
He said he wanted the new location to replicate the seasoned fries flavor — the restaurant’s signature offering.
“It’s a flavor that’s sweet and sour,” he said. “It makes you want to keep on eating.”
Yes, the recipe for the fries is a well-guarded secret. However, there’s no secret to serving tasty food.
The hamburger’s patty is cooked to order, while the fries are served when the rest of the food is ready, Espinoza said. Freshly cooked food has a better taste, he said.
The Dinuba location seeks to replicate what’s in Tulare, including the memorabilia that inspired the restaurant’s name, the drawn-on-napkins customers’ messages posted on the walls and a welcoming atmosphere.
Willy Espinoza said the Dinuba location has been well received.
“The students come here,” he said. “We want to create a welcoming culture.”
Dinuba High School is located just three blocks away. There are also the messages on napkins posted on the restaurant’s walls, including ones from Dinuba high’s soccer team and band members.
There’s also a message from Wasco High School swim team.
A flat-screen television showing Popeye cartoons, whose character “Wimpy The Moocher” inspired the name of the eatery.
Willy Espinoza said the Dinuba eatery is what Attaran started in Tulare.
On a recent Friday, the lunch hour crowd included families, a group of office workers, members of a construction crew and firefighters who walked across the street to the restaurant.
Willy Espinoza worked the grill while two cashiers took orders and delivered food to customers.
The restaurant is run on three principles: customer service, quality of offerings and a clean location, he said.
On to Visalia
The Visalia location, the former Gumbo Express on Court Street between Acequia and Main streets, will be refurbished and is expected to open by next year, Willy Espinoza said.
The refurbishing project will seek to bring a modern touch to an old-style diner, Willy Espinoza said.
The new location will offer alcohol — a chance to pair a burger and a beer.
“We want to do a modern concept,” Willy Espinoza said.
After Checkers closed, downtown Visalia lacks a burger place and the planned Wimpy’s Hamburgers will fill that void, Willy Espinoza said.
“I feel our product is unique,” he said.
Duval Espinoza said the new location will add to the restaurant’s clientele.
“We are taking it to the next level,” he said. “The business is doing well.”
The Visalia location is just the next planned locations. Already, there are plans for seeking locations in Lemoore and Porterville.