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Hinkle’s Hamburgers—Preserving a Tradition One Flip at a Time

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Hinkle’s Hamburgers at 206 S. Adams Street has new owners and a new look.  The business was purchased in March 2019 by Richie and Janna Shields.  In early May, after a temporary closure to complete some updates, Hinkle’s was again open for business.

HinkleHinkle’s has a long history in Bloomington.  The first store was opened by Winfred Hinkle at 403 E. 10th Street in 1930.  A restaurant featuring some type of meat seemed to be a natural fit for Winfred whose father and grandfather were heavily involved in the business of raising cattle, butchering and/or selling meat.

His father was Charles Hinkle who was reared to the life of a farmer, entered the meat business at an early age, and opened a meat market at 219 N. Walnut Street in 1931.  At the time of his death on February 12, 1947, he was 66 years of age and worked as a salesman for the Bloomington Packing Company.

Winfred was born to Charles Hinkle and his wife, Jesse.  Many of his family members, at one time or another, worked at that first Hinkle’s Hamburgers including his brothers, George Maxwell “Max” Hinkle and Herbert Leon Hinkle who went by his middle name.

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Richie Shields, new owner, at the register.

Less than two months after the death of his father, Winfred died in April 1947 at the age of 41.  At the time of his death, Leon was already working as a cook at the restaurant and he then took over as manager along with Winfred’s wife, Mildred.  Brother Max was a clerk.

Hinkle’s Hamburgers continued at Tenth and Grant streets with Leon Hinkle in charge until sometime in the 1960s when the business was relocated to South Adams and the Ashram Bakery took over the property on 10th Street.   The restaurant offered only a few types of sandwiches—hamburgers, cheeseburgers, tenderloins, fish and grilled cheese—accompanied by a limited number of sides.  The sizzling hamburgers, the most popular sandwich, were made to order by using an ice cream scoop to produce balls from fresh, never frozen, ground beef sprinkled with fresh onions.

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A new red-and-white checkered, tile floor and new chairs are among some of the improvements made.

Leon officially flipped his last burger in June 1989, at the age of 67, although he occasionally returned to the grill to flip unofficially.  The restaurant has continued under different ownership but basically the same principals at the same location on S. Adams since that time.

NOTE:  Watch for more another interesting story about the Hinkle family in next week’s blog

 

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