White Hut in the News
Here is a story in the SPringfield, MA paper about White Huthttp://www.masslive.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/business-0/1148543663152190.xml&coll=1
White Hut finds its niche
Thursday, May 25, 2006
By WILLIAM FREEBAIRN
WEST SPRINGFIELD - White Hut owner Edward J. "E.J." Barkett still dreams of an additional location for the iconic restaurant, drawing on lessons from an abortive expansion two years ago.
Barkett, 38, said he learned an important lesson from the experience of operating a second White Hut behind a downtown building from late 2002 to mid-2004.
The glassed-in location on an alley behind Main Street was not right for the White Hut concept, Barkett said.
"We need a high-volume location," Barkett said.
He envisions a stand-alone eatery on a major thoroughfare, and has looked at dozens of locations over the past year.
"My goal is to expand to be a multiunit operation," he said in a recent interview in the basement of the West Springfield burger joint. He is likely to begin with a second store within 20 miles of the existing restaurant.
The iconic White Hut on Memorial Drive here is considered hamburger heaven by many of its regular customers.
Capturing the magic proved more difficult than expected in 2002 when Barkett opened a restaurant in Market Square in Springfield. The office workers that Barkett was counting on to visit daily were there once a week or every two weeks.
Barkett concluded that he needed a location with free parking around it so hamburger-lovers could come from all around. The restaurant closed and is now the B'Shara Downtown Deli.
The White Hut has been satisfying the appetites of the burger-savvy since 1939, when E.J. Barkett's grandfather took over the business. It is famous for a lunch and dinner menu limited to hamburgers, hot dogs and fries.
The 600-square-foot restaurant features a lunch counter and standing room. The aroma of sweet grilled onions hangs in the air.
More than 25 family members have worked in the restaurant since then, including Edward H. Barkett, E.J.'s father. The younger Barkett bought the White Hut from his father in 2000.
E.J. Barkett remembers coming to the restaurant as a child to visit with his dad, and the youngster started working in the White Hut when he was 13.
The move to add another full restaurant is not expected immediately, since Barkett is focused on a new trailer that will bring the White Hut experience to people at games of the Holyoke Giants baseball team this summer. The trailer may also make appearances at other events in the region, Barkett said.
It is a different trailer than the one used at the Eastern States Exposition in the 1990s and then sold.
The restaurant owner has worked with a location consultant and has reviewed dozens of locations in Greater Springfield for a second restaurant.
Wherever the White Hut goes, he said, it will stick to the tried and true recipe of fresh-cooked burgers and dogs, despite changing trends towards healthier eating.
"Over however many years someone's been coming in, whether it's 40 years or five, they see the same product," Barkett said.
"I have my niche. If you want a hamburger or a hot dog, we've got the best."
©2006 The Republican
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