By Dr. David Davis
In 1948, Joseph Vitale, known as Big Humphrey, opened up a burger joint in south Houston and once had as many as five locations in the Houston area.
Vitale named the restaurant after his own pro wrestling moniker after a wrestling career featuring bouts in Missouri, New York, Texas, and Canada.
Over the years, the Vitale’s added dishes from their Italian heritage, including homemade red sauce and bread, which they’ve continued to prepare daily.
In 1986, Glenda and Jasper (son of Joseph) Vitale relocated to Pearland to be closer to their home.
Big Humphrey’s was in business for 72 years overall with 34 years on the corner of Broadway and Jasper (the road was renamed about 20 years ago in his honor).
On Saturday, December 21, Big Humphrey’s served their last meal to the Pearland community after it was announced they had sold the business to Hubcap Grill, which will continue to feature pieces of Big Humphrey’s throughout, including the Humphrey Pizza Burger.
Jasper Humphrey was known for greeting customers with a friendly “Hi, neighbor” until his sudden death in 2013.
When a customer would pay the bill at the cash register, Humphrey was known for saying, “That will be twenty-one hundred and fifty-six dollars” on a bill that was actually $21.56. That tradition continued until the last customer paid the final ticket on December 21.
Glenda Vitale continued the restaurant’s legacy as a welcoming environment for patrons. Her children, Joey and Lisa, helped run the family business as well, which has now stretched four generations.
Big Humphrey’s will certainly be missed and the Vitale family hopes that the Pearland community will be as supportive of Hubcap Grill as they were of the Vitale family.