MARION, AR (WMC TV) - THIS WEEK'S BIG TIP: Big John's Shake Shack, 409 Military Rd, Marion, AR, (870) 739-3943 (NOT OPEN SATURDAYS OR SUNDAYS)
Three decades of decadent desserts, bulked-up burgers and the illustrious 'Ms. Loretta' have packed kids, parents and grandparents into Big John's Shake Shack since 1977.
"I love Ms. Loretta," said Marion youth pastor John Phillips, sitting in a booth with his arm around his son Blake. "It's always a place where you can come back, kick back and hang around with all the old people in here, figure out what's going on around town."
All around the restaurant is memorabilia Loretta Tacker and her late husband John Wayne Tacker collected over 33 years -- Elvis, John Wayne, personalized autographs from Arkansas politicians and the occasional Memphis television anchor (Action News 5's Joe Birch has his handsome mug on the wall!).
But Ms. Loretta said her fondest possessions are her memories of watching families grow up around her booths and tables.
"Watching these children come in and get their ice cream cones or milkshakes, and now they're back, and they're bringing their own kids in, and it's neat," she said.
Milkshakes are Big John's namesake, but its prize is Loretta's homemade pies. They're influenced by the recipes of a friend in Memphis and of her mother-in-law.
Toss in a 1/2-lb Big John Burger with everything, and the fun is on. Or if you're Marion runner Kenny Bryson, you pile on three patties for a Triple Big John Burger.
"Last time I was in here, the cook said if I got four on there, she'd buy it," he said. "I started to get four on there, and I decided, well, I better not."
Yeah, Kenny, leave some of Big John's good stuff for us!
WHAT ANDY LIKES: Big John Burger, Catfish Dinner, Daily Buffets, Hot Fudge Pie, Apple Pie, Fried Pies
For all of this week's Memphis-Shelby County restaurant inspection scores, click here.