In 1936, Frank King, Sr. moved his family to a small one-horse farm in Lenoir County, the present site of King's Restaurant. Frank attempted to supplement his income by building a country store on the highway in front on his farm. The store was built in 1937 by two local carpenters, Mr Byrd and Mr Dorman. Wilbur King and Stanley Robertson, Sr. spread soil for the parking lot while the building was under construction. Upon Frank's death in 1938, his son Wilbur King took over the operation of the store. A poolroom was added in the back of the store and it became the first King's Restaurant. Canned foods from the store were heated on a pot-bellied stove for the pool players. A hot dog pan was installed and the food operation was born. Wilbur left for the military service and was overseas until 1946. Upon his return to Kinston, he continued in the store business and soon added a grill in the poolroom area. In 1947, Wilbur's brother Victor came to work with him at the grill.
Soon thereafter, the King brothers expanded their menu to include bar-b-que pork, cooking only half a pig at a time.
During the '50s, as the small cafe grew it became a popular gathering place for teenagers. Many people have fond memories of treating their best girl to a delicious King's hot dog and milk shake while listening to the jukebox belt out Frankie LAne's famous "Mule Train." At one time the back parking lot was the most famous "Lover's Lane" in eastern North Carolina.
During the '60s, the King br
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