Town Topic Hamburgers

Town Topic Hamburgers

Mounting Type: Other
Size: H 120 in W 122 in D 16 in
Weight: 300 lbs
Electrical: 120v 15 amps
Donated By: Fossil Forge in Lee Summit
Restored through the generous support of: Restoration through the generosity of the Sparks family
Bender: Greg Garnett

In 1937 a little diner selling hamburgers for five cents each opened unceremoniously at 24th and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri. It was called Town Topic Hamburgers. At the end of its first day, owner Claude Sparks pocketed a whopping $21—a humble beginning.

For decades, Town Topic opened numerous diners, including two on Broadway, one each on Linwood, Central, McGee, Baltimore and Nicholson Road, and still more in Independence, Missouri, and Mission, Kansas. This 1956 sign is from the 2719 McGee location, razed in 1967 to make room for Crown Center.

In its 84 years, Town Topic has earned noteworthy local and national recognition, including Hamburger America—“Top 150 Burgers in America”; Travel and Leisure—“America’s Best Diners”; and MSN—“20 of the Best Diners Across America”. Town Topic still sells hamburgers by the bagful at its Broadway and Baltimore locations.

In fact, the menu hasn’t changed much since the early days—old fashioned burgers and a full breakfast line are still cooked fresh and prepared right in front of you. Local favorites are steamy homemade chili, hand-dipped malts, and pie.

Town Topic’s iconic neon sign was designed and built by Noel Barnes. For more than 30 years, Noel built and hung signs for Signs, Inc., formerly located on Southwest Boulevard. During that same time, he became a loyal Town Topic customer and friend to Town Topic founder, Claude Sparks. One day, Claude asked Noel if he’d design a sign for the restaurant— the rest is history. At the age of 84, Noel passed in 2010. Town Topic remains grateful for his imagination, skill, patronage, and friendship.