Conway Twitty and OKC’s Forgotten Twitty Burger

Long before Toby Keith or Blake Shelton ever darkened this state’s dining doorways with overpriced fried bologna sandwiches and Slim Jim-heavy margaritas, throughout most of the sixties and seventies country crooner Conway Twitty made Oklahoma City his base of operations for the thoroughly unique Twitty Burger eatery.

Even though Twitty had chart success with classic tunes like “Lonely Blue Boy,” “Hello, Darlin’” and “It’s Only Make Believe,” he eschewed Nashville’s trappings, making a home on S. Villa in OKC in a modest three-bedroom house. With the fame and fortune of a country music career seemingly not enough for him, Twitty was always looking for something else to fulfill him.

He found it in 1968 in the form of a thick sirloin hamburger with a Hawaiian twist: a deep-fried pineapple ring coated in graham cracker crumbs, placed right on top of the meat.

Using cash he borrowed from pals like Merle Haggard and Sonny West, he opened the first—and only—Twitty Burger, 7200 S. Western. With a grand opening guest-list that reads like a who’s who of classic country—Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton and Don Gibson, to name a few—that showed up and performed for the crowd of burger eaters, the place was an immediate success;

But, much like the music charts, Okie hunger is fickle mistress and, by 1971, Twitty Burger was sadly out of business. To add insult to injury, the restaurant got Twitty into all kinds of trouble with the taxman; luckily, the judge was a Twitty fan and ruled that his dubious deductions were on the up and up, letting him know in a song he wrote and performed in court.

(Long gone, the vaunted location is currently home to Southwest Monument, in case you ever need a tombstone.)

Eventually, Twitty left Oklahoma City and moved to the wide open spaces of Hendersonville, Tennessee, opening up Twitty City, a “country music entertainment complex.” It remained a popular attraction well into the nineties, when he died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm after a show in Branson, Missouri at the age of 59.

Even though Twitty is just a memory now, the recipe for the Twitty Burger still lives on in the clogged hearts and heavy souls of his fans. Take a gander at these ingredients…

I made my own (somewhat) healthier variation of the Twitty Burger this past weekend, using lean ground beef, lean bacon and olive-oil mayo slathered on a whole wheat bun. I cooked the hamburger meat and graham cracker-covered pineapple rings in the oven as well, causing the kitchen to smell more like a cake than a burger—I like to think that it was Twitty’s rockabilly spirit looking over my shoulder.

And while I’m sure that the  Twitty Burger caused more than one pair of tight fittin’ jeans in the Metro, my version was a tasty treat that I didn’t have to feel as guilty about. Still, the original Twitty Burger, a long lost local classic, truly is a piece of country music history that Oklahoma City should really experience all over again.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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11 Responses

  1. As a high-schooler at the time, I never had an opportunity to try a Twitty Burger. Too far south, and I’d never been that far before 😉

    1. “buhm-buhm-buhm”

  2. When at OU in the early 70s, we hung out out at Denco’s Diner enjoying a Darling with a side of grease. One late night the charming waitress made us move from our table at the window because, “Mr. Twitty called and is on his way and wants his table. We actually had no clue who he was but understood the urgency of stardom. Who knew he also had a burger.

    1. He lived here in Norman for a while. The house just south of #8 tee on Westwood Golf Course. Had a big CT on the chimney. House had a major fire around 20 years ago, but was saved & rebuilt. Bet the “charming” waitress was Pat!!!

  3. I ate at a Twitty Burger in Ada around 1969-1970, so I know he had more than one. It didn’t last long there either.

  4. Great burger – very underappreciated Country Music star. Had lots of hits and some great ones with Loretta Lynn. My favorite of their many duets is “You are the reason our kids are ugly”.

  5. Are those cardiac paddles on top? Strange shape for a bun.

  6. Dean and Teensie, your comments about killed me! Love it!

  7. To think he could have played Major League Baseball, but eschewed that to sing.

  8. Favorite Conway tune was his cover of Willie Nelson’s “I just destroyed the world I’m living in.”

    The steel accompaniment is ethereal.

  9. I love the Twitty Burger.. I was going to eat one and safe the other one for later , but no dice it was so good I eat the other one. Every time I fix a burger it’s the only one I fix now. Thanks you Conway Twitty you will always live in my heart, and your music that I love and only listen too.
    Sue Edwards

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