The Burger Bar in Downtown Bristol VA/TN has been serving up the same delicious burgers and milkshakes since 1942! The town that bills itself as the Birthplace of Country Music, and has plenty of proof to back it up, was also the last place the country legend, Hank Williams was seen alive. This article will take time to discuss the delicious history of the Burger Bar and the untimely death of the country superstar.
On New Year’s Eve, 1952, the temperature hovered around 15 degrees when Hank Williams and his driver, Charles Carr wheeled into Bristol. The 25-seat fast food joint was called Snack King then and when Carr jumped out to order, he asked Williams if he wanted anything. Williams simply answered, “No.” Sadly, just a few more hours down the road when the pair were on the backroads of West Virginia, Williams passed from this life at just 30 years old.
As luck would have it, Joe, and Kayla Deel, both professionally trained chefs, bought the Burger Bar in 2012, on the 60th anniversary of Williams’ death. The business had struggled in recent years, but the Deel’s knew there was still a chance to revive and return the diner to its glory from the early years of the business and they were able to do just that!
The original chili recipe from the burgers that were served the night Hank Williams was in town is served as the Howlin’ at the Moon burger that is only complete with caramelized onions and cheese! The nod to Hank Williams is also very evident with burgers named, I Can’t Help It, I Can’t Get You Off My Mind, Hey Good Looking, and Your Cheatin’ Heart. But there are many other delicious hamburgers and sandwiches, including combos! Regardless of what you order, a side of parmesan fries is a must!! These fried potatoes with fresh parmesan sprinkled over them while they are piping hot, gives basic French fries totally different taste you simply cannot get enough of! Dori enjoyed the Hawaii 5-0 burger that came with bacon, BBQ sauce, grilled pineapple, and cheddar cheese, while Brandi had the gluten free option of the I Can’t Help It which is the bacon cheeseburger. Those grilled patties taste fresh and are some of the juiciest ones you will ever find at a diner. Make sure you save a little room for those handmade shakes. They are the perfect sweetness to finish off one of the best meals you will have in Bristol!
When you are heading into Bristol, make your way downtown and Piedmont Avenue. It will not be difficult to spot the bright red awning and the famous Burger Bar vintage sign. If you are one of the lucky ones to get a seat in the original 25-seat area, you are sitting literally feet away from where the baby blue Cadillac sat on that cold night back in 1952. Make sure to take time to walk around the restaurant and look at all the vintage newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the time.
The Burger Bar is located at 180 Piedmont Avenue in Bristol, VA/TN. They are closed on Sunday and Monday but opened Tuesday-Thursday 11:00am-7:00pm and Friday and Saturday 11:00am-8:00pm. If you need to check out the menu before you go, head on over to theoriginalburgerbar.com