Working the ‘system’
At Wingfield’s, the burgers are thick and not too greasy.
A single cheeseburger is too much for the lightweight, although for $17, a bacon triple meat burger is available.
They’ll get your food cooking right away, but don’t expect fake friendliness from order takers or a place to sit, for that matter, although there’s a railing outside where you can stand and inhale your lunch or breakfast sandwich.
Richard Wingfield, a former DISD science teacher, opened the hamburger stand on South Beckley in 1986. At a time when residents and businesses were leaving Oak Cliff, Wingfield invested.
“I have to serve the same burger to the guy pushing the grocery cart selling tin cans as I did the mayor. And that was my whole mentality,” Wingfield told the Texas Bucket List in 2017.
This little burger joint also has an interesting architectural history.
Wingfield’s is in a mid-20th century prefabricated building known as a Valentine Diner.
Manufactured out of Wichita, Kansas, beginning in 1947 and named for founder Arthur Valentine, these buildings were meant to be “system”-style hamburger or breakfast cafes. One person could man the stand as cashier, server, cook and dishwasher with the eating counter and stools surrounding his station like a very tiny Metro Diner.
The buildings typically were purchased on credit, and earlier examples have a small wall safe just inside the door where operators would put a percentage of each day’s profits. A Valentine representative later made rounds to pick up the cash.
El Padrino No. 1 and the U Stop Fina, both on West Jefferson Boulevard, are Valentine Diners that have the safe. Those buildings started life as Rockyfeller System Hamburgers in the 1940s or ’50s.
Wingfield’s doesn’t have the safe, which could date it to 1960 or later, according to the Kansas Historical Society.
Although the stools are gone, Wingfield’s is the only one of the three mentioned that still has its original counter and kitchen.
Wingfield’s is a humble burger dive, but it’s a piece of old Dallas whose delicious heavy lunches make Beckley a destination.
Ambience: Hamburger stand
Price range: $7-$17
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Address: 2615 S. Beckley Ave.
Did you know: It’s best to call your order in and pick it up 10 minutes later.