of the White Hut, Inc.

The White Hut story from the beginning is rather ambiguous. Different stories have been passed down from generation to generation explaining what year it started, who started the restaurant and who then continued it to the present day.

The original “White Hut” was owned by Hy Roberts. He had a small hot dog stand on the corners of Main St. and Memorial Ave. in West Springfield,Massachusetts. Mr. Robert’s was not open for long and the menu was small and slightly different than the one that was perpetuated by Edward J. Barkett I, the owner from 1939-1985. Both gentlemen worked together at the popular Benny’s Delicatessen during the 20′s and 30′s. Although Hy had the opportunity to have his own place, he did not want to continue in the restaurant business but rather wanted to become a cigar salesman. He asked Ed to work at the stand for a couple of weeks and they soon struck a deal for Mr. Barkett to buy the stand that included Mr. Barkett raising $300.00. Because this all occurred during the Depression, it was very difficult to raise the money. One bank, however, did lend Edward the money, and he was able to purchase the stand.

Over the next few years, he altered the menu a bit and bought the present White Hut property at 280 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, one block west. Materials and supplies were scarce forcing Mr. Barkett to build a modest 600 sq. ft. structure. He initially had 2 sit down tables, but quickly learned that using only the twelve stools at the counter would enable him to concentrate on quick service, one of the foundations of the White Hut.

Many family members have worked at the “Hut” throughout the years. Edward’s wife Louise, brother Oz, sisters Rose and Joyce, and sister-in-law Gabriella were the core staff through the 40′s, 50′s, and 60′s. They kept the store very clean, service was quick, and it was inexpensive. Business started to grow during this time. The family created an atmosphere that was comfortable and familiar for the expanding loyal customer base.

Mr. Barkett’s son Edward H. started to run the business in the late 60′s as well as throughout much of the 70′s, 80′s and beginning of the 90′s. With a very strong work ethic and a willingness to succeed he solidified and continued the key elements of the White Hut and business grew very strong, especially in the 80′s. As the second generation owner of the “Hut”, he also employed many family members. His sons Bob, E.J. (Edward J. II) and Tony, nephews, and other relatives worked in the 80′s and part of the early 90′s. The friendly atmosphere and familiar faces attracted new customers and kept the long time customers coming back.

In June of 1993, E.J. returned to run the business, and Bob joined him in September. Quality and great service continued. Also in 1993, the White Hut began a 6 year run at the Eastern States Exposition–”The Big E” (they left in 1998 and returned in
2004 located in the “Food Court” next to the Midway). A strong economy, strong management, an excellent staff, and loyal customers pushed sales to where they had never been. E.J. and Bob ran the business together until December of 1997, when Bob decided to move on and pursue other goals.

In March of 2000 the “Hut” was passed yet to another generation when E.J. bought it from Edward H. Although E.J. was the only family member left, he had a faithful core staff. His mother Roberta, however, returned to work in January of 2001 bringing back a familiar face. E.J. was pondering new ideas to grow and expand at this time, and these were welcomed by his staff. He introduced fries in October of 2000 which was a big change from its “chips only” side menu for 61 years. That decision turned out to be a successful one.

The White Hut’s fiscal year 2001 proved to be its best year for sales and profit. E.J. and his staff continue to create an atmosphere of familiarity, friendly and quick service, and cleanliness, at a very low cost. Restaurant critics such as the “Phantom Gourmet” featured on the New England Cable News Network (NECN), Jane and Michael Stern (Roadfood.com), and the locals have commended the “Hut” for its food, service, and atmosphere recently. The Valley Advocate readers poll voted the hamburgers the “Best in the Valley” for 21 straight years.

An important milestone for the White Hut had been opening a second store located at the “Market Place” in downtown Springfield on December 4, 2002. Although it is no longer in operation, the search continues for opportunity elsewhere. Other locations, venues, and catering are areas in which are presently being researched. The success of the concept has been proven in West Springfield, and E.J. would like to be able to offer it to all who would like to enjoy.

There is no doubt that the entire family has contributed to the success of the White Hut. Edward J. I and his wife, Louise worked long and hard hours with many sacrifices in the beginning. Edward H. endured the very busy 80′s continuing to strengthen the business. And Edward J. II (E.J.) is working to take the business to a new level. All three generations owe much of the success to the strong core staff. Although the staff has changed considerably throughout the 70 years, many have stayed with the “Hut” for many years, including veterans of 31 years, 18 years, and many vets of 5-9 years.

Whether it is the Barkett family members or the loyal staff at the White Hut, they all hope that their long time as well as new customers will continue to come in to “Relish the White Hut Experience.”

Video from Mass Live

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