Monday, August 15, 2011

Westport Flea Market turns 30 with burger and beer specials

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Get a burger and beer for less than five bucks at the Flea this week.
  • Get a burger and beer for less than five bucks at the Flea this week.

If Joe Zwillenberg — the proprietor of the Westport Flea Market — wanted to really take his dining customers back in time, he could roll back prices to the late '50s and the 1960s, when the tenant of the whitewashed building at 817 Westport Road was a restaurant called the Place. "I have an old menu," Zwillenberg says, "and a hamburger cost a dollar. So did a pitcher of Schlitz beer."

But 817 Westport Road didn't truly become an iconic address for local burger lovers, because the former potato-chip factory building was transformed in 1981 into a combination bar-and-grill and eclectic flea market. Serial killer Bob "The Kansas City Butcher" Berdella remains the most famous vendor ever to sell collectibles in the venue, nearly two decades after his death.

In honor of the popular gathering spot's 30-year anniversary, Zwillenberg is continuing the tradition he started last year for the Flea Market's 29th anniversary: rolling back prices on a few items to 1981 standards. Starting today (and through Thursday, August 18), a 6-ounce mini burger, usually $6.99, will be available, with fries, for $2.99. If you want cheese, it's still 50 cents extra.

During the four-day promotion, the Westport Flea Market will also be offering Pabst Blue Ribbon beer for $1.50 and Boulevard Wheat for $2.50.

Since Zwillenberg took over the business in 2006, there has been a slow phasing out of the "flea" component in the building. "At one time, there were as many as 35 vendors in the building," Zwillenberg says. "Now we have six."

The building now features party rooms for rent, and on Friday and Saturday nights, the Comedy City improv group performs there.

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