Food History

Once Upon A Time, There Was A Burger Castle Restaurant

Burger Castle in Hialeah Postcard

Charles Krebs became the first franchisee for the Burger King chain (BK #5) in South Florida in 1957. Because of their tumultuous relationship, Burger King would not allow Mr. Krebs to open a second Burger King. So he did the next best thing. He created his own chain called Burger Castle. The first location would open in Hialeah, Florida, on July 10, 1964.

The name Burger Castle is thought to be a merging of Burger King and Royal Castle, the two most popular burger chains in Miami at the time.

The layout of the restaurant was exactly like a Burger King of that era. The outside featured a giant twenty-one-foot sign in the shape of a king-type character with a crown on his head holding a shake in one hand and a hamburger in the other.

Stanley Tashman designed the layout of the kitchen and dining area. The creator of the giant outside of the Burger Castle is still unknown.

MENU

The menu consisted of the “Flavor-Broiled” Giant Burger (similar to Burger King’s Whopper, which was topped with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayo), a regular burger, fries, shakes, and soft drinks.

Soup of the day with a sandwich option was added later on.

CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP & LOGO

On September 18, 1968, Krebs’ neighbor and friend, W.J. Fowler purchased Burger Castle from him. W.J. Fowler added a commissary for production, and after a lawsuit by Burger King, changed the logo from the king to a knight with a shield. New additions to the menu were fried chicken, a roast beef sandwich, and a filet of fish sandwich.

Burger Castle had locations in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Twenty restaurants alone were in South Florida, which makes sense since their headquarters were located in Miami, Florida.

In the early 1970s, there was a push to expand Burger Castle into California, but it did not come to pass. By the middle of the 1970s, most of their restaurants were gone. The only remnant left of Burger Castle is the bottom half of the twenty-one-foot sign, still up at their old location in Perrine, Florida.

NEWSPAPER ADS

Miami News Ad – October 8th, 1968
October 8th, 1968 newspaper ad from the Miami News
Miami News Ad – April 6th, 1971
April 6th, 1971 newspaper ad from the Miami News
Miami News Ad – April 6th, 1971
April 6th, 1971 newspaper ad from the Miami News

BURGER CASTLE LOCATIONS

All known Burger Castle locations are listed below.

BURGER CASTLE HEADQUARTERS1035 NE 125th St North Miami, FL 33161
CONNECTICUT501 West Middle Turnpike Manchester, CT 06040
132 New Britain Avenue Plainville, CT 06062
920 Queen Street Southington, CT 06489
1949 Sila Deane Hwy Rocky Hill, CT 06067
FLORIDA350 E. State Road 436 Casselberry, FL 32707
2350 Douglas Rd Coral Gables, FL 33134
17500 S. Federal Highway Cutler Bay, FL 33157
Davie Blvd (SW 12th St) and State Rd. 7 33317
1268 SW 40th Avenue Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315
345 East 49th Street Hialeah, FL 33013
444 Hialeah Drive Hialeah, FL 33010
6520 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood, FL 33024
280 NE 8th Street Homestead, FL 33030
2275 SW 87th Avenue Miami, FL 33155
2395 NW 7th Street Miami, FL 33125
5780 NW 7th Avenue Miami, FL 33127
6855 SW 57th Avenue Miami, FL 33143
8865 S. Dixie Highway Miami, FL 33156
9045 SW 107th Avenue Miami, FL 33176
10541 SW 40th Street Miami, FL 33165
13495 NW 7th Avenue Miami, FL 33168
6060 Miramar Parkway Miramar, FL 33023
18400 NW 27th Avenue Opa-Locka, FL 33056
2292 N. Federal Hwy Pompano Beach, FL 33062
202 South Dale Mabry Tampa, FL 33609
ILLINOIS8660 Golf Road Des Plaines, IL 60714
INDIANA6400 Melton Rd Gary, IN 46403
MARYLANDRt 40 West nr. Ellicott City, MD
MASSACHUSETTSRte. 9 (Opposite State Police College) Framingham, Massachusetts
597 Lincoln St. Worcester, Massachusetts
325 West Boylston St. Worcester, Massachusetts
125 Squire Road Revere, Massachusetts
NEW JERSEYRoute 46
NORTH CAROLINAHighway 70 East Black Mountain, NC 28711
RHODE ISLAND1599 Post Rd Warwick, Rhode Island
SOUTH CAROLINA208 N Main St, Mauldin, SC 29662
WISCONSIN175 Layton Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53207
5801 S. 27th Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53221
11011 National Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53227

Other unconfirmed states that had Burger Castle were California, and Louisiana.

BURGER MUSEUM COLLECTION

Burger Castle Clock
In my personal collection of burger artifacts, I own one of only a handful of clocks that hung in the restaurants. I also have a full set of Burger Castle restaurant blueprints, an employee patch, a few postcards, and a coupon.

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18 Comments

  1. Gregg Fitzpatrick says:

    Good article, thank you. We had a Burger Castle on S, 109th and W. National Avenue in West Allis, Wisconsin. I could not remember the name of the chain, but when I saw the picture at the top of the article, no one could mistake that sign of the giant. Thanks much.

    1. Didn’t even know the chain made it all the way to Wisconsin. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  2. jimwinters says:

    i thought i was the only one who knew about the legs…funny

  3. Calvin Maxwell says:

    There was a burger castle in miami on sw88st kendall drive and 107 ave in kendall mall

  4. bfowler1000 says:

    My father owned the company and was the Chairman of the Board and CEO, after having sold his insurance company. Although it seems that a fast food chain couldn’t really fail back then, somehow it did, and it drew him into personal bankruptcy (from which he never recovered). I’ve been trying to find out more about the company, since my father refused to discuss it, and passed away when I was in college. I’d really appreciate anyone sharing any info that they have on the company, or any sites I can use to make more progress!

    1. Doug Turk says:

      My Dad & two partners formed the company in Miami when I was a kid. It was a franchise operation & I recall there where stores in Maryland too. They must have sold it to your Dad.

      1. bfowler1000 says:

        Hey Doug – was Charlie Krebs one of the partners? (He lived four houses away from us, and I think maybe he was involved as well?). Any info is greatly appreciated!

        Thanks.

        Bill Fowler

        1. Doug Turk says:

          Hi,
          I was a kid during that period so my knowledge is limited. From what I recall my Dad (an Airline Pilot) was one of 3 partners who was involved in the early stages of the business. He was involved in Real Estate when not flying & his function was to locate new locations. When the company had grown to 15 or so the other partners said he either needed to come aboard full-time or sell his stake. He sold. The names that I recall are Charlie Krebs & Frank Erwin but I can’t say for sure what they had to do with any of it. I remember visiting stores & the main office. Doug

          Douglas L. Turk
          Director of Flight Operations
          Life Lion Air Medical Service
          Office: (717) 531-8760
          Cell: (717) 215-3147

          1. bfowler1000 says:

            Thanks Doug for your input. As I’m getting filled in a little bit more, I think my father bought the company from Charlie Krebs (and who ever the other shareholders were at the time) after they had built it to a certain size (perhaps not long after your father sold his stake). Of course, it was a sore subject with my father so I never really heard what happened that took it down……. (recession?, poor planning?, law suits with Burger King?). Still curious as to what happened. Please feel free to add any insight or email me at bfowler1000 at gmail.

          2. Doug Turk says:

            Haven’t a clue as to why the chain went under as my Dad moved on to another venture. He used the proceeds as a down payment on a piece of commercial property on US1 in Kendall. That venture almost sunk him (us) but he was able to sell it at the last second. Used the proceeds from that sale to build a vacation house & got out of the “business world” entirely. I spoke with my brother (who is older) & he confirmed the 3 original owner where Charlie Krebs, Frank Erwin & my Dad -James Turk. Charlie & Frank bought out my Dad & then sold the whole thing to someone who must’ve been your Dad.

          3. bfowler1000 says:

            Well, thanks for helping me piece things together. Charlie Krebs’ son Gary is a few years older than me, but we lived just four houses away. I’m going to try and get a hold of him. Glad your dad dodged the bullet.

          4. bfowler1000 says:

            That would be great if you could get me that! Thanks.

            Bill

    2. Jeffrey R. Brant says:

      My late father (Harvey Brant) and his business partner, Art Budwig, owned the BC on SW 87th Ave (Galloway Rd) at Coral Way. They were the original owners, around 1963, and sold it a few years later, doing owner finance for the buyers. A couple years later, the new owners quit making loan payments so we took over the store and ran it for a couple more years before selling it again. This time, the new owners tore it down and put a Burger King in its place.

      1. bfowler1000 says:

        Hey Jeffrey – I’m guessing your father and his business partner were owners with the original founders, which included Charlie Krebs. If you know what actually happened to lead to the company’s ultimate demise, I’d love to hear your thoughts…… (just curious, since it was a taboo subject with my father).

  5. I went to the National Avenue location in West Allis, WI I remember they would put the whole burger if I recal correctly into a steam press before packaging it and giving to the customer. The food was very good!

  6. Stephen H Schraedel says:

    Hi. I must have been 5 or 6 yrs old when we lived in Perrine, FL. All my friends were talking about McDonald’s & Burger King, but my father thought their food was bland. He only took us after we begged for days. Then he tolerated the meal. Our mother was more, “Oh, let them enjoy it.” But dad was about quality and flavor.

    However, he found this place called “Burger Castle,” which he tried to sell us on. It wasn’t on a main drive, US-1, but off one street or so and north of the McD’s and BK. I remember the whiter colors, the King sign outside.

    One night I recall that as we walked in, we were greeted by a very nice gentleman, who was maybe your dad. He greeted us and before we could order, I recall specifically that he asked, “Would you like a free milkshake tonight?” I was surprised and thought, this never happens. He than said, “Would you like a black berry or some kind of berry flavored shake?” I said, yes.

    Again, I’m between 5 to 7 yrs old, but I will always remember how nice I thought that was. I asked my father why did he do that? My dad said, “Well, they want people to have a positive experience and to try things on their menu that maybe they haven’t thought of trying.” I was good with that.

    But you know now, after having worked at a few places when in and just out of high school. I’m guessing they just made an extra by mistake and rather than waste it, they decided to use it for advertisement with the next customer. Boy, did it work. I was starting to believe my dad. This Burger Castle was becoming my favorite.

    Now, to the burger. Burger Castle had a large burger, larger than the Whopper. Whoppers always had a machine-like taste, something not quite home-made to me. But that large Burger Castle burger was full of every good thing it was my fav after the first or second tasting. They had the Whopper beat by size and flavor. Hands down. My father was right. This was one of the best chains in our town.

    He used to go to Royal Castle, as well, but it had all that chewing gum under the counters. The service was less personal and they only had 3-4 things at first. .25 cent burger, which dad always ordered in 4’s, so it was a dollar a shot. Then pie, and ? ? who knows. They were open late, but very sterile. My mom never liked it there. Cold and impersonal, I think was her impression.

    But as always, crowds like to do what crowds do and buy. I worked at WordPerfect when it was the top Word Processer in the world. However, Microsoft pushed their marketing of MS Word, the less superior product, & it got market share. WordPerfect sold out to Novell, Inc, and Novell, only wanted their Groupwise email product to add to their networking software.

    WordPerfect the word processor got sold off to Corel in Canada. What a loss! It’s still a superior product. When I was a consultant at Kennecott Utah Copper, they mandated we only use MS Word by Jan 1st that next year. They forced the issue, but the lawyers called me and said, “Can you get us a copy of WordPerfect, as we can’t do our job with MS Word. We’ve tried.”

    Most lawyers were power users, some of the best. They said, “MS Word is junk. We can’t get our work done. All lawyers use WordPerfect.” So, we worked a deal. I got them WordPerfect and saved the company 1.3 million dollars in fines they would have had to pay had their docs been late because they were forced to use MS Word.

    I wish Burger Castle was still around. It would fly today. Think of In-n-Out. People love retro. Besides all their food was better. Their shakes had a better flavor than the pathetic, plastic flavored shakes of BK and McD’s.

    It would be a fun run to try and resurrect Burger Castle and rock the world with it. The colors were and still are unique and they could have the biggest burger and best shakes and a few other things to add. I would love the big King out there again. He was unique.

    So whatever happened is too bad. Sad that someone was upset, but they were the best and Id say someone could give it another run and beat out In-n-Out, or 5 Guys. Sorry, but 5 Guys is hyped up to the moon, but their food is a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s just there, nothing to comment on. I’ve been there once. Period. Never going back. I only went because a friend invited me.

    And, it’s unhealthy food. My son’s friend worked there during high school for 2, maybe 2.5 years and he had high blood pressure by the time he graduated and it took about 3 years before he could get it down to normal, as a 20 year old. So, not healthy food, I’d say. He ate all he could there, as he only worked after school and during weekends. There could be other factors, but the oil and frys and the greasy burgers…I had a grease slick on the table under my burger and I don’t see that at In-n-Out, or anywhere else.

    So, yeah. If anyone wants to talk about resurrecting Burger Castle, drop me a line.
    Thanks for posting this info. Good memories.
    Steve

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