From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Not to be confused with Whataburger.
What-A-Burger is the trading name used by a small group of restaurants which were established by entrepreneur Jack Branch and members of the Branch family beginning in 1950. With the first location at a busy traffic circle near Newport News, Virginia in the former Warwick County, they soon established additional locations in the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg, Virginia, each along busy through-traffic highway corridors. Another location was opened by a member of the Branch family in the 1950s in Greenville, South Carolina.
The first Virginia store opened in 1950 by entrepreneur Jack Branch near Newport News, Virginia. Branch's' first location predated the first Texas Whataburger restaurant slightly.
Newport News Circle was a busy intersection located at Jefferson Avenue and U.S. Route 258 governed by a traffic circle (aka "rotary") in the former Warwick County. (Warwick County later became politically consolidated with the City of Newport News, assuming the latter's better-known name). U.S. Route 258, later known as Mercury Boulevard in honor of the astronauts of Project Mercury at NASA's center at nearby Langley Air Force Base, led from Fort Monroe to the James River Bridge and has been a major traffic artery in the area for many years. Jefferson Avenue at the time carried Virginia Route 168, which led from Anderson's Corner on U.S. Route 60 west of Colonial Williamsburg to the harbor near Newport News Point, where traffic long crossed Hampton Roads by means of a automobile-carrying ferry (later using the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel). It was a very busy location, especially in the era after World War II and before the U.S. Interstate Highway System was created.
Branch's original location on the traffic circle was operated by his brother, Paul E. Branch, Jr., and was moved some years later to another location slightly west of the former traffic circle after a highway modernization project took place. That store is continuing business as of January 2011.
Founder Branch later was involved in establishing additional stores in the independent cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights and Petersburg, Virginia, as well as one in South Carolina. The other Virginia stores were located along U.S. Route 1 (Virginia)|U,.S. Route 1, also a major through traffic corridor in the years before Interstate 95 was built. In addition to the U.S. Route 1 locations another Richmond location was added on State Route 161 in Richmond. (Route 161 was touted as a western bypass of Richmond's Lee Bridge in its early pre-Interstate Highway years, using the privately owned Boulevard Bridge to cross the James River.