C. F. Penn Hamburgers

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C. F. Penn Hamburgers in Decatur. May 2012

C. F. Penn Hamburgers is a restaurant founded by Charles Franklin Penn in Hartselle (Morgan County) on April 22, 1927. In 1939 a second location opened in Decatur, where it remains the last of the chain. Birmingham got a location in the 1950s, and Cullman in 1966.

The standard Penn hamburger "all the way" is a deep-fried hand-formed patty served on a bun with mustard and onions. The original 10¢ price increased to 14¢ during World War II and 20¢ in 1962. French fries, onion rings, hot dogs and chicken fingers were added to the menu in later years.

Charlie Hodge, a friend of Elvis Presley's, introduced him to the burgers, which were soon a regular staple at Graceland, delivered by the dozens. Time Warner chairman Don Logan also had burgers delivered to his New York office, packed in dry ice for the trip.

Penn ran the restaurant until his death in 1958. His son, Hugh took over the business until his death in 1997. It is now owned by the third generation. In late 2010 the restaurant was reported to be on the verge of closing, but loyal customers convinced owners to keep the restaurant open. In 2016 a misunderstanding with the restaurant's landlord prompted a notice that the store would close, but an agreement was reached to keep it running.


  • McDaniel, Deangelo (January 28, 2005) "Deep-fried devotion: Burgers boiled in oil have own niche in area fast-food market." Decatur Daily
  • Fleischauer, Eric (December 10, 2010) "C.F. Penn Hamburgers on verge of closure." Decatur Daily
  • Steere, Tim (September 16, 2016) "Iconic Alabama eatery won’t close." Birmingham Business Journal