WW. Cousins has been a staple in the Louisville restaurant scene since it was founded by real-life cousins Crawford and Peyton Wells in 1983.
“We knew we wanted to build a restaurant somewhere in Louisville,” Crawford says. “The old Steak and Ale had become available as we were developing the concept, so we purchased it and converted it to WW. Cousins.”
At first, the restaurant was just known as The Cousin, but the duo changed the name to “WW. Cousins” shortly after opening, putting a more personal touch on the business.
Wells operated the restaurant until his retirement in 2015 when he sold WW. Cousins to Marty Johnson and Earl Smith. Johnson had worked for a fast, casual chain of restaurants under the helm of Wells before buying that chain and operating as Nautical Restaurants. With nearly 40 years of restaurant experience under his belt, he was looking for a new opportunity.
“We had been trying to get Crawford to sell us WW. Cousins for a while, so we jumped on it when he was ready to retire,” Johnson says.
Despite the change in ownership, the restaurant has remained an employee-owned entity, with Johnson serving as president.
“We have a lot of long-term employees who have been at the restaurant for 10 to 20 years,” Johnson says. “We’re an employee-owned company and the restaurant’s success goes right back to our employees.”
Customers have stuck around as well over the 35 years WW. Cousins has been in business.
“You’d be surprised how many people tell me they’ve been coming here since the 1980s,” Johnson says. “I hear that a few times a week. We’ve built a great reputation, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
“Our burgers are by far our most popular item, and I don’t think you can get a better hamburger,” Johnson adds. “We use fresh Angus beef, never frozen. You can get it cooked however you like, and we provide quick service.”
All menu items are made from scratch and cooked to order. WW. Cousins has always baked their own buns in-house fresh every day, using a recipe originally provided by Plehn’s Bakery in St. Matthews that has evolved over time. They also bake an assortment of cookies and pies daily onsite for dessert.
There are endless ways to customize their famous burgers, thanks to the forty-item toppings bar. Featuring an array of delicious sauces and condiments and various types of onions, pickles, lettuce, relish and more, the toppings bar is one of the things that has kept customers coming back all these years.
“We have a lot of really unique toppings and have something for even the pickiest member of your party,” Johnson says. “Or you can opt for a plain, juicy burger right off the grill.”
WW. Cousins also offers several seafood choices and chicken and even has a gluten-free bun option. If you’d prefer no bun they can serve your burger that way as well.
Whatever you order, you’re sure to come hungry and leave satisfied. WW. Cousins also has a nice selection of soft drinks, hand-dipped milkshakes and beer.
Restaurants come and go, but WW. Cousins has enjoyed great success at their East End location.
“We are consistent with our core product,” Wells says. “We still use chuck meat, while other hamburger restaurants use different parts of the cow. You order your burger any way you like it cooked and top it with whatever toppings you’d like.”
On top of WW. Cousins’ already great prices, they offer free meals for kids on Monday and Tuesday nights with the purchase of an adult entree.
Conveniently located at 900 Dupont Road just off Breckenridge Lane, both Johnson and Wells agree the East End location has been one of the biggest keys to their success, aside from the food of course.
“It’s a great location, there’s no doubt,” Johnson says. “We end up getting a lot of customers from surrounding counties who are in town visiting one of the hospitals by us, and we also have a lot of locals.”
WW. Cousins is open for dine in or carry out Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. For more information, and to see a full menu, visit ilovecousins.com.