Smitty’s Better-Burger Inc. is open again after a fire in March required the family-owned business to shut its doors for more than eight months and left Hampton residents and long-time customers waiting in anticipation.
During Friday’s grand opening ceremony for what the owners called “Smitty’s 2.0,” Mayor Donnie Tuck cut the ribbon officially making the restaurant’s famous made-to-order burgers available again to the public.
“We ordered food four times more than we would for a normal week and by close of business Sunday we were completely out of food,” said Corry Smith, granddaughter to the original owners and spokeswoman for Smitty’s Better-Burger Inc.
Smith also said the team was “pleasantly surprised” customers were dedicated enough to wait up to an hour and 45 minutes for their order on opening day.
Founded by Paul and Ethel Smith and located on North King Street since 1956, Smitty’s Better-Burger Inc. is a local historical site and has been designated as a Hampton landmark by city officials.
The drive-in restaurant with carhop service is a step back in time and brings a feeling of nostalgia for its customers.
And, although the structure had to undergo a complete rebuild with all new equipment, Smith said her grandfather’s vision for Smitty’s identity was never up for debate.
“That’s what Smitty’s has always been…from the menu to the service, to our contribution to the community, nothing is going to change,” she said.
One thing is missing though.
After about seven months of rebuilding, Smith said a vehicle crash took the awning off — a drive-in staple they hope to replace soon.
Eat inside the car, at a picnic table, or under a gazebo all year round at Smitty’s, Smith said “every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and what other people call New Year’s Day but what we call ‘Ethel Smith Day’…the day after my grandmother’s birthday.”
Paul Smith is 89 years old now, and Smith joked her grandfather won’t let them put him to work but is still calling the shots to keep the business going well into the future.
“We’re hoping to keep the excitement growing and continue putting out food and connecting with our customers,” she said.
Smitty’s Better-Burger Inc. is at 1313 North King St. and is open from 11 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6:50 p.m.