Monday, July 12, 2010

Feltner's Whatta-Burger (Russellville, AR)

Feltner's Whatta-Burger
1410 North Arkansas Avenue
Russellville, AR
(479) 968-1410

As we set forth towards California on Interstate 40, we got hungry near Russellville, Arkansas. We'd been camping near there a few months ago and lamented the fact that we didn't stop at the Butcher Boy for a burger. Our last attempt was on a Sunday and they were closed. Ditto for Monday. (It was the Monday after the fourth of July if that makes a difference.) Luckily I had my Road Food book with me and the Sterns highly recommended Feltner's Whatta-Burger which was just a mile and a half away. (Just far enough off the highway as to not be immediately obvious.) The monkeys (Satchel, 8, and Jiro, 6) love a good burger.

As you can see from the sign, this place has been around awhile. 1967 to be exact.

It has that distinctive Whatta-Burger look. "It has height!" according to Satchel.

The Road Food review said to have your order ready when you walked in because someone would quickly come to take it. I was explaining this to Warren as we walked in. We joined the back of a very long line and Warren was in the midst of making some snide remark about it being awhile before we had to order when a kid came over and asked what we wanted.

I tried to simply order us all burgers, but we had to be very specific about sizes and toppings and whatnot. He was scribbling our order down on a white paper bag, apparently incorrectly because soon a girl came over to correct him. She also helped pin us down on sizes and toppings. When I ordered fries the dude asked, "Personal size?" I stared blankly and said, "Uh, just regular." The girl nodded at me and said to the guy, "Small fries." Once we got the burger and fries down, I proceeded to tell them our drink order, but they stopped me. "You'll order drinks at the front of the line." Alrighty...

While we were in line we took in the ambiance. There are cutesy signs everywhere (Procrastinate Tomorrow, No Tresspassing Allowed, We guarantee fast service no matter how long it takes); things hanging from the ceiling; newspaper clippings; etc. You definitely won't get bored in line, but if you are like me, you will find it hard not to make fun of the fact that there are twelve people (at least) working behind the counter and it still takes 15 minutes to get your food.

It's clear that Feltner's is an institution in Russellvillle, and I guess that means they like to employ the entire graduating senior class for the summer! It is truly astounding to watch the way each step of the burger making process has been broken down. I'm pretty sure one girl spends the day putting tomatoes on a bun. And that's it! But hey, they did have some good lookin' tomatoes. Definitely locally grown.

Once I secured our drinks, I sent the boys to get a table. Warren thought they were Subway hand me downs, but I'm not so sure about that.

With a minimum of twelve people on staff, I would expect one of them to deliver the food to the table, but they don't. I patiently waited for our white paper bag to be filled with burgers and fries and handed to me. Once that happened, I was allowed to pay. Our grand total was about $20. Very nice. And no line for tipping or a tip jar in sight I might add.

Speaking of money, I feel compelled to mention that Feltner's has the weirdest pricing I've ever seen. For example, a large drink was $2.01. A Whatta drink (the size larger than large) was $2.35. Everything was like that. There were no .99, $1.99, $2.99, etc. My initial thought was, "Huh, I guess they put a lot of thought into their pricing." My next thought was, "I bet the girl who has to remember the prices makes better grades than the tomato girl."

I headed back to the table with the food and we all dug in. I was impressed by the kids' meal. (I think they call it a Dino Jr.?) The burger, fries, drink, and cookies (your choice of Oreos or Teddy Grahams) was definitely a good size for my hungry boys.

Yes, this is Jiro eating his Oreos first. (Satchel's are still in my purse.)

Warren, just a little road weary, reported that the onion rings were delicious.

Here's a peek at those tomatoes I've been talking about.

All in all we liked the food and had a better experience that we would have at McDonald's. Was it the best burger ever? No. But was it worth stopping for? Yes.

We all visited the bathrooms which were outside. They were large and clean. Surprisingly no changing table though. Oh Warren and I were impressed that just the cups were styrofoam. Everything else was paper or cardboard.

Whatta Burger Drive In on Urbanspoon


Elvis Costello said...

Your comment was very annoying. This is a fast food joint in willfully Arkansas, not a cafe in Paris. I wish you would open up your own fast food burger hut and call me, I would love to see how wonderful if a place you would manage. A+ for this place and very clean and clean is very important.

Anonymous said...

You should try this place - - next time you're in Russellville. It's amazing!

Unknown said...

Mr. Costello's comment was, in my opinion,very annoying. Yes, Feltner's is clean, busy and friendly. Their burgers are way over-rated, however. Their fries are plentiful and good. Certainly, CJ's burgers are better as are many others in the State. I don't know why the Stern's chose this particular location for a focus.

Anonymous said...

We have a canoe trip that's been going for decades onto the Big Piney or the Mulberry each April... and the highlight of our trip home on Sunday morning is stopping at Feltners Whatta-Burger {which ftr is NOT associated with the Whataburger chain}. HINT: Gotta beat the church crowd there on Sundays, cause they show up in force.

There is no reason to order a "large" anything there... you could feed half the third world on a large order of fries.

I've always been impressed with both the food and the service, and yes, those are some killer good onion rings.

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