Eats Beat

Repaint the Clown, or retire him? Old-time burger grill battles city over iconic sign

Dallas-Fort Worth’s favorite old-time burger often comes with a side order of drama.

In Haltom City, the newest controversy at 1959-vintage Clown Burger isn’t about the food, It’s about the giant signs.

Both the big Clown pole sign on Haltom Road and a newer Clown on the side wall need fresh paint, City Hall says.

Owner Kari Louthan Snodgrass now says she will repaint both signs, but for days she was saying that she might repaint the wall to satisfy city code requirements.

That would help her save money to refurbish the 1959-vintage Clown pole sign, a keepsake from the original East Belknap Street location.

Clown fans went through the roof when they read her Facebook post: “We love our sign. Come take your last chance picture this week.”

If you’ve never been to Clown Burger, you might not understand the reaction.

It’s a 1959 throwback perpetually in need of rescue.

Snodgrass took over when her father, Bill, retired after 53 years. She’s kept his promise that the burgers, hot dogs and fries will taste exactly the same as they did the day it opened in 1959, not far from the current location a mile south of Loop 820 off Haltom Road.

There’s an Elvis shrine. And 1950s kitsch. And a “Belknap room” with the tiny school-desk seats from the original location.

The burgers are a throwback, too. They’re made with old-time 1/6-pound patties, so order a double ot triple cheeseburger if you want a meal.

There’s also foot-long chili dogs and chili-cheese fries.

But the sign on the east wall of the current location on Stanley Keller Road at Haltom Road only dates to about about 1985. It’s not as historic as the clown pole sign from Belknap.

Before McDonald’s, Jack-in-the-Box and Griff’s Burger Bar brought new clowns to town, Haltom City went to the Clown.

Council member Brent Weast wrote on Facebook that Haltom City has matching grants to help owners with improvements.

Snodgrass said the city notices caught her unaware and gave her little time to comply.

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Clown Burger is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and for dinner Friday at 5010 Stanley Keller Road, on the corner at Haltom Road; 817-298-1477,

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.