I was sitting at the Oasis in Cottondale, Alabama when the news broke. Conway Twitty had just died in Springfield, Missouri five hundred miles to the north. I walked up to the jukebox and pumped in a few quarters. It was time to pay homage to one of the greats. Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man came on, and the old, dark honky tonk grew silent. Old men in tractor caps cried.
Conway was just 59 years old when he passed. The favorite son of Friar’s Point, Mississippi had a monstrously successful career in country music charting over 50 no. 1 records during his career.
He was also a restaurateur.
In 1969, Twitty, flush with 100k in cash he’d rounded up from a group of investors including Merle Haggard and Sonny James, opened the doors to Twitty Burger, a western themed restaurant located in Oklahoma City.
That opening bash was a hell of a soiree with Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Jim Ed Brown, Don Gibson and Dottie West all performing.
They’d all gathered as one to help ol Conway launch himself into the stratosphere of restaurant ownership.
Twitty speaking on his business:
“I have a chain of restaurants called, The Twitty Burger Restaurant. For the large appetite we have the Papa Twitty. For the medium appetite we offer the Mama Twitty. And, of course, for the small appetite we have the Itty Bitty Twitty. The Twitty Burger itself consists of a patty of 100 percent pure ground beef. Atop that we place a slice of American cheese, two strips of bacon and a slice of pineapple. We take that, dip it in onion ring batter, fry it to a golden brown, and place it on a toasted sesame seed bun.”
The chain would shut down in 1971.
All moneys were repaid to investors but not without controversy. He deducted the payments from his tax bill and got in hot water with the IRS. Thankfully the judge that presided over his court case was a Twitty fan and he ruled the deductions legal.
Conway Twitty Burger Recipe
4 oz. patty ground sirloin
1 large pineapple ring
Graham cracker crumbs
2 slices bacon, fried crisp
1 (5-inch) hamburger bun
* cook beef patty
* dredge pineapple ring in graham cracker crumbs, fry in shortening
* apply mayo to both hamburger buns
* garnish burger with bacon and deep fried pineapple ring