It’s good to be King

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Selma times-Journal

Selma must have been ready for a Whopper.

Overwhelmed by employee and community response, Burger King officials announced they were moving Sunday’s grand opening up a day during a two-hour Friday dress rehearsal for local dignitaries.

As the politicos, company executives and store employees came outside for a group picture, two other employees struggled with the sign outside, trying to update the wording.

Director of Company Operations Tony Vasquez then announced the change to the entire crowd, before leading them back inside for lunch.

Sitting inside the company’s bright, renovated building on Highland Avenue, Vasquez said the reasons for the change were simple; Selma’s response and Selma’s workers.

As the guests finished their meals, Vasquez’s glee at Selma’s response was evident.

Smiling widely, he described how Selma had surpassed expectations.

All of the 50-to-60 Burger King employees are from Selma, including manager Brenda Purifoy, a graduate of Selma High and a veteran of the old Burger King in Selma. In the interim she worked at a Burger King in Montgomery.

Vasquez went on to talk about the community showing up even as renovations were underway, wanting a Whopper or at least to know when they’d be able to get one.

But that stopped Friday.

Seeing the guest inside eating, customers strolled in hoping for some lunch.

Vasquez welcomed each one and treated them to lunch.

It didn’t always seem that way.

For two and a half years, Selma’s two former Burger King buildings – both owned by the same franchisee – sat closed.

But Vasquez said the company wanted a presence back in Selma, realized they owned the Highland Avenue property and went to work.

And they did.

The renovated building is fresh and clean with tastefully bright accents and giant black and white pictures of Selma a century ago, copied from the Old Depot Museum.

The new Burger King is not a franchise. It was opened and will be run by the Burger King Corporation.