Where do we stop for lunch?” That was the question once we had gotten off of the interstate. My friend, Ted Anderson and I, were headed for Minneapolis from Burbank, California, and we had decided to explore some of northern Oklahoma’s country highways and roads. I mean, an interstate highway is an interstate highway.
So at Clinton, still some distance from Oklahoma City, we headed north on State Highway 183. Then we turned onto 33 heading to the northeast. We really didn’t know where to go. But it was time for lunch. So for no reason at all and completely on a whim, we turned east along US 270/281 and headed for Watonga.
We could see the huge grain elevator silos easily five miles away. But we wondered about a restaurant when, lo and behold, there it was. Wiggee’s! Wiggee’s Burger Ranch. Just a few feet beyond the intersection of Clarence Nash Boulevard (State Hwy 8) and US 270/281.
Now Watonga is one of those little country towns that we all pass through as we travel. The official state map of Oklahoma says the population is 5,000. But according to Barbara Wigington–our hostess and part of the ownership team at Wiggee’s–it’s more like 2,000 or 2,500 now. (Photo from left to right, Diane Wonack, Barbara Wigington, Bill Wigington.)
Wiggee’s is one of those great little places where the locals come for breakfast and lunch. It’s the kind of place where, after you’ve been in the place for three minutes, you’re engaged in a conversation with someone as if they were waiting for you to come in.
Now, when two big bald guys from Minnesota walk into Wiggee’s, all of the conversation stops and the heads turn. Barbara greeted us with that wonderful way people speak in Oklahoma and explained we could still get the buffet, or, we could order from the menu.
When you finally make it to Wiggee’s, order from the menu. Get a Wiggee Burger. They come in several varieties, all of which look pretty good. I chose one that appeared somewhat unusual: the Big Wiggee. Ted ordered the Ranch Wiggee.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be waited on by one of the friendliest waitresses you’re likely to meet–Diane Wonack. And when she delivers your Big Wiggee, you’ll find two burger patties garnished with cheese, mushrooms, jalapeño peppers, bacon, chili, and, if you want them, grilled onions. I had those, too. Ted’s Ranch Wiggee was similar, sans the jalapeños and chili.
All this was cooked up by Bill Wiggee (the other part of the ownership team), who toils out of sight in the kitchen.
Paying the bill was the fun part. We, of course, had to explain what brought two guys from Minnesota to Watonga. Once we had explained that we were helping Ted’s daughter move from California to Minnesota, Barbara revealed her Minnesota connection. At one point in her work career, she worked for Control Data when Control Data was one of the giants in the mainframe computer business. Well–turns out that Ted worked as a communications manager for Control Data in Minneapolis, and I did freelance work for the company for about a year in the early 1990s. Small world. Happens all the time.
We learned in our chat with Barbara that Watonga’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Clarence Nash, the voice of Disney’s Donald Duck. You’ll notice above that the town has named a street after him. You can see the Wikipedia entry on Nash at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Nash.
So if you’re passing through Watonga, Wiggee’s is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Address is 420 W. Russworm, but you’ll see it when you drive into town. Here are some highlights from the menu:
Noon Buffet, all you can eat, $6.99
Burger and Fries, $4.99
All-You-Can-Eat Burgers and Fries, $6.99
All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast of biscuits and gravy, $4.29
Coffee or Tea, $.75 all day