IT may not be haute cuisine, but hot dog and chips is good enough for food critic Jay Rayner.
So good in fact, he travelled to Benfleet’s Wimpy bar to enjoy a Bender in a bun for BBC’s the One Show.
Friday’s programme will celebrate 60 years of the burger chain – including the story of how the Benfleet restaurant’s owner met his wife and started an empire of franchises across south Essex.
Loyal customers and workers at the London Road branch told the celebrity critic why they kept coming back.
Fred Wildman, 91, and his wife Rose, 94, of Southwold Crescent, Benfleet, show up at the Wimpy every week for a full English breakfast.
Mr Wildman said: “We’ve been coming ever since this branch opened. I like the fact it’s a family place and it attracts everyone from toddlers to older folk like us, “The food is always good and the girls are always friendly.”
Marion Crumpton, 73, of Kennington Avenue, Thundersley, has been eating at Wimpy for 50 years.
She said: “I like to be looked after and I really enjoy coming here. This branch is golden. It serves this area very well. Out of all the places to eat we have around here, I would always come here. The older generation still likes to have its food on a plate and to have table service.”
Owner Huseyin Hassan, 56, met his wife, Angie, 54, in a Wimpy where he was working as a 17-year-old student.
The couple later opened Wimpey bars in Shoebury and Pitsea – the latter now closed – and then took on branches in Westcliff and at Rayleigh Weir.
He said: “I’ve been in Benfleet for six and a half years, but working in Wimpys for 35 years.
“I love it, because Wimpys are family-run and that’s how we give our personal service.
“It’s great for Benfleet that the One Show has come down. It’ll put the area on the map.”
Critic Rayner said: “What’s great about the One Show is we can do anything.
“I like a story with a sense of history that represents a part of British life.
“I remember Wimpy in its heyday, in the Seventies, and I’m intrigued as to how it is still here.
“Given the dominance of the American fast food chains, the fact it has survived and has a loyal following is great.
“Wimpy used to be part of the classic British high street.
“They are clearly doing something right.”