In my constant search to uncover South Florida burger & restaurant history, these locations are barely ever mentioned fondly. These five forgotten Miami burger joints have disappeared without a trace. I’ll hear about Royal Castle during its golden age, or Burger King in its early days but never about any of these spots.
I need to thank my friend and fellow food historian Phillip Pessar for his help in tracking down addresses and years for some of these. When I would reach a dead-end in my investigation, Phillip jumped in with a helping hand.
Forgotten Miami Burger Joints Table of Contents
Broadway Joe’s is the namesake restaurant for football hero Joe Namath. The restaurant featured hamburgers, and roast beef sandwiches, as you can see in the picture below. Broadway Joe’s opened in January of 1969 at 2415 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables.
By May of 1970, there were 11 locations in Florida, New York, and Texas. Three of them were franchises. December 1970 saw Joe Namath leave the company, and not long after that, Broadway Joe’s was gone.
Muhammad Ali had a Burger joint? Yup.
ChampBurger was a chain of black-owned-and-operated “Champburger Palaces” in black neighborhoods. The two ChampBurger locations were 3268 Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove and 6155 NW 17th Avenue.
Travel Culinary had done a great job of explaining what happened:
To support his family, he, among other activities, signed a restaurant franchise deal that netted him $900,000 from the Champburger Company for the use of his name and image and a 1% royalties on the company’s annual profits. In 1968, Champburger stock sold for $5 a share. The licensing contract he signed with Champburger stipulated that all franchise menus sell Muslim friendly food without pork or shellfish. Thus, in addition to the all-beef Champburger, franchises would sell all beef “hot dogs, fried chicken, fried fish, boiled fish, other food products and soft drinks including his own endorsed Mr. Champ soda. The franchise never made out of Miami as the company never gained enough investors and got bogged down in a lengthy and expensive court case with stockholders.
Most folks nowadays know the name Marriott for their chain of hotels, but in 1927, J. Willard Marriott opened a nine-stool root beer stand that became the Hot Shoppes Restaurant chain. There were three Miami locations that I could track down: 950 N Miami Beach Blvd, 7900 SW 104th Street, and 3500 S. Dixie Highway.
Hot Shoppes had arrived in Miami a year and a half before the April 1973 Miami News article below. While I’m unsure how long they lasted, on December 2nd, 1999, Marriott closed down the last of the Hot Shoppes restaurants.
If you’re still longing for the days of Hot Shoppes and their popular dishes like the Mighty Mo Burger & Sauce, you might want to pick up the Marriott Hot Shoppes Cookbook. The book is selling at a reasonable price on Amazon or eBay, considering it was released in 1987.
Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant
Jahn’s was an old-fashioned ice cream parlor chain that began in New York. The huge Kitchen Sink Sundae was their signature dessert. Jahn’s had two South Florida locations: 249 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and 17262 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach.
At least there is still one Jahn’s operating today in Jackson Heights, Queens if you still need that fix. A few years back, when I was in New York, I stumbled across the last Jahn’s restaurant and enjoyed a cheeseburger there.
I’m not sure exactly as to the dates of operation in South Florida, but the first location opened in the Bronx, in 1897. By the 1950’s they had spread to other parts of New York, New Jersey, and the two South Florida locations.
I don’t know much about TropiBurger, which had one drive-in location in Little Havana at 1340 Sw 8th Street. My best guess is they were around only about 6 months from August 1965 to January 1966.
I do know it didn’t work out for them in Miami. So they opened in Venezuela, where they had a great run with multiple locations.
In February 1997, all of the 32 TropiBurger locations in Venezuela became Wendy’s restaurants. Then, they were gone.
So there you have it old school Miami burger fans, do you remember any of these?
Will you help keep their memories alive?