Black History Month Spotlight: Lovie Yancey, Founder of Beloved SoCal Burger Chain Fatburger

Every weekday this month, we’re profiling fascinating figures from L.A.’s Black history

For a running list of all our 2021 Black History Month profiles, click here.

In 1947, gregarious entrepreneur Lovie Yancey (1912-2008), who had previously owned a restaurant in Tucson, launched a new eatery with business partner Charles Simpson. Called Mr. Fatburger, the three-stool hamburger stand on Western Avenue capitalized on L.A.’s new obsession with fast food. “The name of the store was my idea,” she recalled. “I wanted to get across the idea of a big burger with everything on it…a meal in itself.”

Working 18-hour days, Yancey transformed her little stand into a culinary institution beloved by celebrities and everyday folks alike. Dropping the “Mr.,” Fatburger was franchised and billed as “The Last Great Hamburger Stand,” competing with McDonald’s and others in the local market (today there are 200 Fatburgers). “They may be more popular, but a good hamburger sells itself,” Yancey once said. “And I don’t think anybody makes as good a hamburger as we do.”

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