Jimmie’s Diner in Wichita can trace its roots all the way back to the first White Castle

·2 min read

Today, Wichita’s two Jimmie’s Diner restaurants are owned by Jack and Linda Davidson.

What some Wichitans don’t know, though, is that the history of Jimmie’s Diner stretches all the way back to the city’s first White Castle, which opened in 1916 on East Douglas

On Saturday of this week, I’ll be soaking up the history at the Jimmie’s Diner and signing copies of my book “Classic Restaurants of Wichita,” which includes a section detailing the Jimmie’s Diner backstory. I’ll be at the diner at 3111 N. Rock Road from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 — just in case you’re looking for a holiday gift for the restaurant and/or local history lover on your list.

Denise Neil will be signing copies of her book “Classic Restaurants of Wichita” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Jimmie’s Diner on North Rock Road.
Denise Neil will be signing copies of her book “Classic Restaurants of Wichita” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Jimmie’s Diner on North Rock Road.

Researching the history of Jimmie’s Diner was one of my favorite parts about writing the book, and the Davidsons provided me with several great photos from over the decades.

Here’s how Jimmie’s Diner and White Castle are related:

Back in 1938, White Castle — which was founded as a tiny hamburger stand — left Wichita and relocated its headquarters to Ohio. When it left, a former White Castle manager and fry cook by the name of A.J. “Jimmie” King bought three of the closed White Castle hamburger stands and changed their name to Kings-X.

He would go on to build more restaurants, and at one point, he had 10 hamburger stands around Wichita. In the 1940s, Kings-X added a breakfast menu and became known for its extra crunchy waffles.

The Kings-X chain expanded into drive-ins in the 1950s, and the King family even added the famous Big Bun at 4724 E. Central to its collection. By the 1970s, Jimmie’s son Wayne was running the business and switched Kings-X to a full-service restaurant model. In 1987, Wayne King partnered with local developer George Ablah to build Jimmie’s Diner on Rock Road, and he named it for his dad, who died three years later at age 92.

Jimmie’s Diner owners, left to right, Jack and Linda Davidson, with their son Joe Davidson, are the owners of Jimmie’s Diner.
Jimmie’s Diner owners, left to right, Jack and Linda Davidson, with their son Joe Davidson, are the owners of Jimmie’s Diner.

The Davidsons bought the diner and the former King’s-X restaurant at 21st and Amidon from Wayne King in 2007. Today, they still own and run it along with a Jimmie’s Diner in the former Toc’s Coffeehouse building at 1519 George Washington.

I’ve got about 100 of these stories in the book, which costs $21.99. I’ll be happy to chat with you about them when I see you on Saturday.

Can’t attend and want an autographed book? Email dneil@wichitaeagle.com for details.

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