Miss Moon Pie visits Bill’s Hamburgers in Amory

Story Cherri Golden

On a brisk, blustery, decidedly un-spring-like Saturday morning I donned my Miss Moon Pie persona, a warm jacket, and a saucy (as well as warm) hat; and my sister, the darling Crab Puff, and I set out for another gastronomic adventure. We pointed the car north and headed to Amory, Miss. Our objective was Bill’s Hamburgers.

A few weeks earlier someone in the building where I work asked me what my next target would be. I replied, “Oh, someplace in Amory called Bill’s.” Since this exchange took place as we passed in the hallway, I thought no more about it. Apparently, however, word got around. Over the next few days, nearly a dozen people stopped by my office to tell me they would be more than happy to join me on my feasting foray and to ask when exactly I planned to go. I quickly realized I had better be vague about the details or it would be necessary to rent a bus for this excursion. Apparently Bill’s Hamburgers is known far and wide.

Personable waitress, Amy Tate, informed us of the history of the establishment and the proper way to order our food. This beloved restaurant was founded in 1929 by Bob Hill; but takes its name from Bill Tubb, a subsequent proprietor. Bill’s has been a regional favorite for decades and has been featured multiple times on the Food Network. The menu is limited. You order a hamburger or a cheeseburger as a single or a double. You can also get fries, onion rings, or homestyle chips. If somehow you are still hungry after your burger and fries, fried apple pies and freshly baked cookies are available.  Beverage options are soft drinks and the house wine of the South, iced tea.

The burgers are perfect in their simplicity. You order them “with” or “without.” “With” means your burger will be placed in front of you already dressed with mustard and onion. “Without” burgers will be just the meat and the bun; and you add ketchup, mustard, mayo, or hot sauce from the bottles available. Nope. No tomatoes, no lettuce.

The enticing fragrance of the mingling of meat, mustard, and onions made our taste buds dance so Crab Puff and I ordered our burgers “with.” Long-time patrons will often specify “with extra gravy.” Now this terminology is a tad misleading because what they are really saying is, “Please dip my hamburger bun in that big puddle of grease on the griddle.” Being true Southerners who know the gustatory worth of grease, we said, “Yes! By all means, give us “extra gravy!”

As we sat salivating at the counter with our rectangles of waxed  paper in front of us, we had an excellent view of the griddle and all that occurs there. James Wilkerson, son of the current owner, Reid Wilkerson, is the burger master and is in charge of grinding and seasoning the meat in keeping with the more-than-75-year-old secret recipe.

As Crab Puff and I fairly inhaled our flavorsome burgers (and quickly ordered more) we chatted with counter mates Brooke Sweeney, an Amory High student, and her companion, Lisa Marshall, and United Furniture employee Matt Turner, as well as little Miss Maggie Glenn, age 5. They told us they have been patrons of Bill’s Hamburgers all their lives. We clearly understand why. I’m sure I’ll be back at Bill’s counter soon since I will be returning to Amory to retrieve the layaway purchase I made at the delightful shop, The Mall on Main, during this trip. I’ll also take another turn through the enchanting shop called The Precious Possum. I plan to order a couple of burgers “to go” for the drive back home.

Amory is a charming town of about 7,000 people located in northeast Mississippi. Each year it welcomes more than 60,000 visitors when it hosts the Amory Railroad Festival in April.