Wimpy’s Paradise opened its doors Feb. 14 in downtown Chandler, providing another dining option for visitors to the downtown area.
Owner Randy Walters decided to open his restaurant in downtown Chandler because of its distinct location and his love for the city.
“Wimpy’s is a unique restaurant spot and brings a unique environment to the downtown area. He has been involved in the farmers market for years and it was a natural fit for him,” said Jennifer Lindley, executive director of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership.
The idea of Wimpy’s Paradise has been part of the Walters family for years. The restaurant goes back to when Walter’s father, Ken, opened the first of two restaurants in 1939, 15 miles south of Pittsburgh.
“After World War II they closed and I thought that it would be cool to reopen the restaurant,” said Walters, who is no stranger to the Chandler community. He is the owner of Pittsburgh Willy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, which has been located in Chandler’s Merchant Antiques Square Marketplace for the past five years.
After five years in the Merchant Antique Square, Walters has relocated his Pittsburgh Willy’s Hot Dog House into downtown Chandler behind the San Tan Brewing Company, and it’s scheduled to open in the next couple of months.
This change now gives Walters two restaurants located in downtown Chandler.
“He has a huge following with Pittsburgh Willy’s. People love him as a person and come and support his food, too,” said Lindley.
In the last five years, Walters has built up a following of customers with Pittsburgh Willy’s and credits that with helping Wimpy’s Paradise open smoothly.
“I was lucky. When I started Pittsburgh Willy’s, I had a friend who set up a website and I was active on the website. Now I have a built-in customer base,” Walters said.
Similar to his father’s restaurant, Wimpy’s offers customers items such as burgers, shakes and malts which were popular during the 1930s and 1940s.
“I wanted to keep it as true to what my dad had in the ‘40s,” Walters said.
The name of the restaurant comes from the popular cartoon “Popeye,” in which the character Wimpy enjoyed eating hamburgers.
“When families come in the kids will ask their parents who Wimpy is and it helps bridge the gap to a new generation. It gets kids excited about old cartoons,” Walters said.
Christine Mackay, city of Chandler economic development director, said that with the addition of Wimpy’s and other new restaurants to the area, they will have a positive impact economically on the downtown community as restaurants tend to prosper when surrounded by other restaurants.
“Each restaurant has a positive impact and the sales tax is a leading revenue source for the city,” said Mackay.
Besides the location of Wimpy’s Paradise, Walters said he was drawn to the area because of the many independent restaurants located in downtown, but wanted a place for families to dine as well.
“Chandler is an amazing little town. There are so many dining options and Wimpy’s brings something new and different to the area,” Walters said.
• Kathryn Beck is a junior transfer from Chandler-Gilbert Community College.