I was born in Spohn Hospital in October of 1949.
That means that I only had to live for the first 10 months of my life without Whataburger…. which opened on August 8, 1950. It also means that I’ve had over 70 years of experience with Whataburger.
I wish that I had a count of the number of Whataburgers I’ve eaten in my lifetime, or the number of different Whataburger stores at which I’ve ordered my #1, without cheese, cut the tomatoes and pickles.
Each store was memorable in its own way.
In the 1980’s, my Dad hung out every morning with his senior retired buddies at the Parkdale Whataburger.
It was here that he got his Nickel Coffee Mug and would sit for hours conversing with his Nickel Coffee club buds. If it was before 10:00 a.m., I always knew where to find him.
Another favorite store was the Whataburger near Carroll High School (recently closed). This was the one that I ate at frequently during my high school years.
Burger Chef was just around the corner on Lexington Blvd., but despite their 18 cent price, a cheap Burger Chef was no match for a huge, juicy Whataburger.
This was also the store where I ate during my 17 years as a teacher at Carroll. And, of course, there is the downtown Whataburger on Shoreline. Since its opening in 1999, it seemed to be everybody’s favorite. As the company’s Flagship store, it is the Cadillac of Whataburger locations.
But, I am most nostalgic about the Whataburger on Gollihar at Kostoryz.
It was among the earliest Whataburger's built in Corpus Christi (the fourth, I believe).
The original building faced Gollihar and sat directly behind a Gulf gas station that faced Kostoryz.
There was no indoor dining and the menu was simple…..a Whataburger (fixed any way you liked it), chips (no fries), and a drink (shakes, malts, coke, or root beer).
This place was neat because you literally watched the burger being made right in front of you.
As far as I know, my very first Whataburger came out of this store, circa 1954-55.
From the summer of 1960 through the summer of 1962, I was playing Little League baseball at Price Field…just down the street from the Gollihar Whataburger.
After big wins, this is where my family and sometimes the team headed for a Whataburger treat.
It was sometime in 1962 that the iconic orange and white striped “A-Frame” was added to the original building.
In effect, the entire Whataburger building now became its highly recognizable sign.
The Gollihar location was apparently doing a booming business and had outgrown its building near the Gollihar-Kostoryz corner by the late ‘60’s.
Citing traffic congestion, Whataburger obtained a building permit in 1969 to re-locate the Gollihar store to a spot farther away from the intersection.
The original Whataburger building behind the Gulf station at 3210 Gollihar was sold and became a Winchell’s Donut shop.
Whataburger then constructed a new A-frame building 500 feet down the road at 3220 Gollihar.
For many years, there was a long awning in front of the A-Frame.
One could eat inside or in the car, under the awning.
A final change came to the Gollihar location sometime in the 1990’s.
The awning was removed, and a new, enlarged dining area was added to the front of the A-Frame.
Despite all the changes….including a location change…..the Gollihar Whataburger remains the one that inspires the most memories for me.
And, today, it is the ONLY Whataburger in Corpus Christi that retains that original, tall A-Frame design.
Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him an expert in the subject.