Route 66 News

The man behind Waylan’s Ku-Ku

The Joplin Globe published a profile on Gene Waylan, the longtime owner and grill operator of the Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger restaurant along Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma.

What many people don’t know is the Ku-Ku is the last one of a chain that once boasted 200 restaurants across the Midwest during the 1960s. And the primary reason the restaurant has survived is Waylan himself, who’s owned it since 1973.

While other restaurants have come and gone on Miami’s two-mile long stretch of Route 66, he has continued to flourish thanks to a dedicated work ethic and community involvement that has caught the eye of major media throughout the country.

“I’ve been featured on the Food Channel. I’ve been in the New York Times and the New York Post,” Waylan said. “I’ve got a lot of people who have stopped in because they’ve seen me on television and they want to meet me. I always come out and say hi because that means a lot to me that they stopped here.” […]

“We’re a made-to-order place and that means putting the kind of care into what people ask you for,” Waylan said. “Today, we are really busy behind here, but the other places aren’t. That’s because people want to come here because they know things are going to be done right. I’ll apologize to people when they come through when they know they have had to wait a little longer than I like, but a lot of times they are happy to wait because they know they are getting quality from me.”

Waylan closes his place only a few times for holidays. Also, when he was laid up after hip surgery a few years ago, he elected to close during that time. He’s the one behind the grill, and he wants to ensure everything is done right.

Fortunately for Route 66 tourists, he has no plans to retire. “I’m going to continue to serve here until I can’t do it anymore,” he told the Globe.

The Travel Channel produced a segment about Waylan and his restaurant:

(Nighttime image of the Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger sign by Chuck Coker via Flickr)


One thought on “The man behind Waylan’s Ku-Ku

  1. Randy Cox

    It’s good to know that a little bit of the past is still alive on r66. Now I’ll have to stop in Miami when I come thru

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