WEATHERFORD, Texas – When you’re pondering a place to eat in Parker County, just head three miles east of town to this road side stop on the Fort Worth Hwy.
Gary Williams has owned the Malt Shop, a hamburger hotspot, since 1992 and he’s only the third caretaker this stop has ever had. But his history here goes back even further, all the way back to the day they opened The Malt Shop in 1958 to attract business from the nearby newly formed lake.
Gary was 14 at the time and cruised here in his 1954 pickup.
“It was brand new then and I wanted to see what it was all about,” said Williams. “Never thought I would learn what it was all about later on.”
Over the years not much has changed at The Malt Shop, heck nothing at all really. Even the colors of this pink and chrome palace have remained. But it’s not just on the outside, a special person on the inside is also a fixture. Juanita Montgomery.
“She is 85 years old, and she’s been with us for years. She was here before previous owners was here even, you know,” Williams said. “And she is store manager, too.”
This is Juanita’s second stint at the malt shop, the first which was in the early 70’s and she loved the hamburgers so much she came back in 1990.
“I used to work the front all the time, and then I came back here and I liked back here [in the kitchen],” said Montgomery.
Gary and Jaunita have special place in their hearts for this old eatery. Since it was a part of their youth, keeping the home fires burning here is almost like a calling for these two, especially when you consider Juanita helped Gary buy the business with a small loan, all in the name of keeping the tradition alive.
“When a kid like me just opened this up, and didn’t have all the money I wanted to take care of it, she was willing to help and I really appreciated that. I’ve paid her back now, but there were times I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but she wanted it to go just like I did,” Williams said. “Just to keep the history alive, and I hope that when my time comes to leave this life, I hope I will have well-helped someone else to continue this way.”
Considering the care these great Texans take in keeping the Malt Shop a way of life, it was time to experience the eats.
Local legend and head cook Angie Metcalf got us started with a cheeseburger. Angie gets the quarter pounder fired up on the flattop while I duck the cover.
While crouching to cook, you start to realize the time and effort that goes into these simple hamburgers. While the beef browns, the standard toppings in Texas get put on the toasted bun and cheese gets put on the patty.
Well when you’re in Weatherford, do as the locals do and eat outside your car, in your car, whatever makes you happy. So we’ll go ahead and bust out that big old cheeseburger and we’ll go for the gusto.
Just that incredible smell of a homemade drive-in burger. Nothing fancy, just simple with so much history. Like a classic car driving on a sunny Sunday is the Lone Star State, this burger revved my engines.
Well, you think it would be heavy on the grease but it’s really not that bad at all. Comes together very well, great flavor that just takes you back.
“You know, I think it’s pretty amazing. It’s still the same color, still the same shakes, everything’s still the same and that’s kind of hard to find these days around here,” said Teresa Shipley, Weatherford resident born and raised in the town.
Whenever you’re in the mood for just a good old cheeseburger, the Malt Shop in Weatherford is well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“We’re an up and coming town and everything’s new, so it’s good to have a little bit of tradition here and remember the good old days a little bit,” Shipley said.