Our Story

Simple Beginnings

In 1952, a young entrepreneur named Gene Hoots bought an ice-cream stand called Frigid Queen from his uncle. Later in 1954, he expanded his menu by adding burgers and fries and named it Burger King. He decided to register “Burger King” as a trademark with the state of Illinois. Little did he know, this trademark would eventually get him involved in a court case and set a precedent in trademark law that still stands to this day.

A Landmark Court Case

Around the time Gene Hoots started Burger King, another restaurant with the same name was being set up in Florida. This Florida business grew into the Burger King brand that is recognized around the world. In 1968, Mr. Hoots brought a suit against the corporate giant arguing that his state-registered trademark gave him exclusive rights to the name in the State of Illinois.

The corporate Burger King argued that their federal trademark trumped Gene Hoots state trademark. Eventually, the court ruled in favor of Mr. Hoots, stating that his trademark is valid. This gave Mr. Hoots the exclusive rights to his market area of a 20-mile radius of 1500 Charleston Ave, Mattoon, IL.

The Next Generation

In 1977, at the age of 16, Ernie Drummond started working for Mr. Hoots as a grill cook. He worked his way up to become the general manager and handled the day-to-day operations for Mr. Hoots for over 25 years. Eventually, Mr. Hoots sold the business to a local real estate investor who renovated the interior of the building. In 2017, Ernie purchased the business and now runs it with the help of his wife, Jodi, and sister, Polly Bennett.

A Tradition of Quality

It has been over 60 years since Burger King was established, and it still offers the same great burgers that it did in 1952. Throughout the years, other menu items like pork tenderloin, grilled chicken sandwich, and pronto pup were added.

That is not all! You’ll also get the best soft serve in Coles County with local favorites like the lemon cone with candy eyeballs, chocolate milk shakes, and glaciers. Visit us at 1508 Charleston Ave for delicious burgers, fries, ice creams, and more.