Floyd’s Hamburger Shack, Fitzgerald

A friend recently reached out to let me know that I should photograph this Fitzgerald landmark because it’s about to be razed for redevelopment, as are all the other adjacent commercial structures. (Thanks, Sara Padgett). The little brick building at the corner of Merrimac Drive and the Ten Mile Stretch will always be remembered as Floyd’s Hamburger Shack, but its history goes back a bit further.

Francis Marion “Frank” Malcolm II (1874-1954) came to Fitzgerald from Waycross in 1906, and in 1910 he bought the largest single tract of land (11 acres) in the city, to which he moved a home from Alapaha Street (still standing) and built other structures over time. [A house he built across the road from his own, in 1948, is where I spent the first six years of my life]. His grandson, renowned artist David Malcolm, told me that the ‘Floyd’s’ building was built in 1930 as a cannery, which employed young women. He even related that my grandmother, Nettie Pate Brown once worked there before she married my grandfather. After the cannery shut down, it was a Venetian blind shop and later, a grocery store.

The association with Floyd’s came in 1952 when J. W. Floyd moved his popular short-order business from the Five-Story Building (Garbutt-Donovan) to this location, which was closer to the new homes and subdivisions being built on the west side of Fitzgerald.

Later owners were Wade and Myrtice Malcolm and their daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Varnell Hendley. Walter Owens and C. L. Martin also operated a barber shop in the connected space next door to the restaurant.

Hamburgers topped with grilled onions, a concoction known as Mama’s Stew, and barbecue smoked in the pit out back were required eating by generations of families in Fitzgerald. The barbecued goat was a particular favorite.

Pam Hunter, daughter of Barbara and Varnell Hendley, kindly shared the recipe for Mama’s Stew. [Mama was Pam’s grandmother, Myrtice Malcolm]. She writes: I think great recipes are made to pass down to future generations and share with friends! You will need 2 lbs. Ground pork*, 4 lbs. Ground beef and one diced onion. Brown this up in a large pot and drain off the grease. Cover all this with water and add salt and pepper to taste. Next dice 6 large baking potatoes and add to the mixture. Make sure water still covers all. Cook until potatoes are tender. Now add 2 cans of cream corn, one can of LeSueur English peas(drain), 3 cups of Heinz ketchup, and 3/4 cup Heinz 57 sauce. Do not substitute . It will not taste the same! Go easy when adding salt as the ketchup and 57 are both salty, but those taters need some salt when cooking! I hope your families enjoy this as much as mine does! Don’t forget the crackers and salad! This makes a lot, but you can freeze it and it is still good!

*Ground pork and sausage are not the same thing, if you’re wondering. You can find ground pork in most groceries and specialty meat markets.

An iconic hamburger sign was located on the side of the building and was synonymous with Floyd’s.

6 Comments

Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

6 responses to “Floyd’s Hamburger Shack, Fitzgerald

  1. pantslesspatdye

    I stumbled upon your website while looking up something else in Laurens County several months back – what a find! I appreciate your passion for history, South Georgia and photography.

    C.L. Martin was my Great Uncle. I know you know this, but the “new Floyd’s” across town still does a brisk locals business. I hate to see the building go; I still remember you could tell when patrons were from out of town as they did not know to close the screen door.

  2. Dianne Perry

    Did the Cantrell family later own Floyd’s? We use to go there and eat on Friday /Sat nights. Good eating!

  3. Cara Cobb

    The hamburgers came out on wax paper. Juicy, smothered in grilled onions. And there were HUGE biscuits so light they nearly floated away before I could finish it! Floyd’s was amazing. They moved and now serve BBQ

  4. Pam Hunter

    Brian that sign was painted by Wade and it now hangs on the back wall of Ronnie’s BBQ. It is in the back corner by the restrooms. They moved the sign when they moved the business.

  5. Victor McGough

    I would bet that places like this are all over Georgia. When I would spend my summers with my aunt and uncle, Doris and Robert Harman, in Unadilla, Dooly County, there was a drive up hamburger “shack” between Pinehurst and Vienna on US 41 called teh Grill. It was always a treat to go there. A server would come out to our car and later bring us the food on a tray that would attach to teh driver side window. You couls go into a dining room if you wanted. It’s not there any more , sadly.

  6. Ernie Fordham

    I ate many a hamburger from Floyds when I lived in Fitzgerald from 1952 to 1959. We lived about 10 blocks from there on West Central Avenue.

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