If you live in Miami and drive with any frequency to the Airport or Miami Beach, I will assume you’ve seen the Burger King company building located right off the Dolphin Expressway (SR836) on the NW 57th Street exit.
I would also like to assume that you know that Burger King has been headquartered in Miami since 1959 and that it was initially called Insta-Burger King when it was founded in Jacksonville, FL, in 1953.
But maybe you don’t?
*You might want to check out my visit to Burger King Store #17
The History of Burger King
- Whopper Fast Fact
- The First 10 Burger Kings in Miami
- Vintage Burger King Articles & Ads
- Quirky Burger King Trademark Issues
- What was your favorite Burger King Sandwich when you were a kid?
Burger King is a global fast-food restaurant chain that has become one of the most recognizable names in the industry. The company’s history dates back to the mid-1950s when it was founded in Miami, Florida, United States.
In 1953, Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns opened a fast-food restaurant called Insta-Burger King in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a small-scale operation that served basic hamburgers and milkshakes. The restaurant’s concept was inspired by the success of the McDonald’s franchise, which had gained popularity during that time.
However, by 1959, the original owners were facing financial difficulties, and they sold the company to a Miami-based franchisee duo, James McLamore, and David R. Edgerton. This marked a turning point for the company as McLamore and Edgerton revamped the concept and renamed it Burger King.
Whopper Fast Fact
Under McLamore and Edgerton’s leadership, Burger King began to expand rapidly through franchising. They introduced the “Whopper” in 1957, a signature hamburger that would go on to become the company’s most iconic menu item. The Whopper’s popularity contributed to Burger King’s success and helped establish its unique identity in the fast food industry.
In 1963, the company introduced its signature logo—a bun with the word “Burger King” in the center, which is still used today with minor modifications. The following year, the first international Burger King restaurant opened its doors in Puerto Rico, marking the beginning of its global expansion.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Burger King continued to grow both domestically and internationally. It introduced new menu items and innovative marketing campaigns to compete with its main rival, McDonald’s. The company’s marketing efforts included the introduction of the “Have it your way” slogan in 1974, which emphasized Burger King’s commitment to customization and customer preferences.
In 1989, Pillsbury, the parent company of Burger King at the time, decided to sell the chain to the British multinational conglomerate Grand Metropolitan (later renamed Diageo). Subsequent ownership changes followed, including a merger with the Canadian company Tim Hortons in 2014, forming the holding company Restaurant Brands International (RBI).
Current Burger King
In recent years, Burger King has focused on menu innovation and adapting to changing consumer preferences. It has introduced vegetarian and plant-based options, such as the Impossible Whopper, to cater to a growing demand for more sustainable and healthier choices.
Burger King has expanded its presence to over 18,000 locations worldwide, making it one of the largest fast-food chains globally. It continues to compete fiercely with other industry giants, maintaining its unique brand identity and commitment to providing flame-grilled burgers and a variety of menu options to its customers.
The First 10 Burger Kings in Miami
The first Insta-Burger King location in Miami, FL, opened on December 4th, 1954, at 3090 NW 36th Street. It’s no longer there at that same spot; the #1 was moved down the street to 3601 NW 27th Avenue.
Seven of the original 10 Burger King locations in Miami are still operational in the same spot where they opened in the 1950s. The building’s structures, however, are not the same.
If you’d like to see a 1950s Burger King structure that is pretty much intact, you would need to visit La Palma restaurant.
|LOCATION NUMBER||ADDRESS||CITY||CURRENTLY THERE|
|1||3090 NW 36th Street||Miami||Cladd Motors|
|2||6091 SW 8th Street||West Miami||Las Viñas BBQ|
|3||8995 NW 7th Avenue||Miami||Snapper’s|
|4||30390 S Dixie Hwy||Homestead||Burger King|
|5||7975 NW 27th Avenue||Miami||Burger King|
|6||9201 South Federal Highway||Pinecrest||Burger King|
|7||3051 Coral Way||Coral Gables||Burger King|
|8||18240 South Dixie Highway||Perrine|
|9||891 W. 49th Street||Hialeah||Burger King|
|10||600 E 9 St||Hialeah||Burger King|
Vintage Burger King Articles & Ads
One last fast fact that might interest you, the Whopper, was not always on the menu.
The Whopper was the creation of David Edgerton & James McLamore in 1957. It sold for 37 cents. They brought Insta-Burger King to Miami in 1954 and eventually became the co-founders of the rebranded Burger King brand years later.
Quirky Burger King Trademark Issues
Burger King Drive Inn of Alberta, Canada
Burger King Drive Inn was a mini-chain of restaurants founded in 1956 in Alberta, Canada. They also featured Kentucky Fried Chicken until about 1979, when their licensing agreement expired. The restaurants were sold in 1990, but founders William R. Jarvis and James Duncan Rae kept the “Burger King” trademark.
The “Burger King” name was sold to the Burger King company by Jarvis and Rae in 1985 for one million dollars. The company wasted no time in announcing that there would soon be Burger King restaurants in Alberta.
Burger King of Mattoon, Illinois
When Edgerton and McLamore’s Burger King decided to open their first location in the state of Illinois in 1961, little did they know the can of worms that they were opening. Since 1952, Gene and Betty Hoots had owned Frigid Queen.
In 1954, they expanded their menu to include hamburgers and fries, among other foods. The name of the restaurant was changed to Burger King in 1957. In 1959, the name was registered as a state trademark in Illinois.
By 1967, the number of corporate Burger King locations was hovering around fifty, and the couple decided to take a stand. They brought a lawsuit against Burger King of Florida in 1968, believing that their state trademark gave them exclusive rights to the name of Burger King in the state of Illinois. BK of Florida argued that their federal trademark superseded the couple’s state trademark.
The court decision gave the Hoots exclusive rights to an area within a twenty-mile radius from the location of their restaurant and Burger King of Florida the rights everywhere else. Gene and Betty Hoots are now retired. Cory Sanders bought the Burger King of Mattoon from them.
Thirty years later, the closest corporate Burger King location is in Tuscola, Illinois, twenty-five miles away.
Hungry Jack’s of Australia
There is only one country in the world where Burger King does not operate under its name, and that is Australia. In 1971, when Burger King established itself down under, they learned that their name had already been trademarked.
They gave their Australian franchisee Jack Cowin a list of possible new names from Burger King and Pillsbury’s already registered trademarks. He chose the name used by Pillsbury’s US pancake mix, Hungry Jack. The only change he made was to add an apostrophe “s.”
Whopper Burger in San Antonio, Texas
In 1955 Frank Bates founded Whopper Burger in San Antonio, Texas. He was the owner of the rights to the name Whopper, which effectively kept Burger King from using the name there.
Burger King did open a store in the area for a brief time and renamed their signature sandwich, the Deluxe. The store did not survive. Fast forward to 1983, when Bates passed away, and his wife sold the restaurant chain to a couple of Burger King franchisees a year later.
They, in turn, sold it to the Burger King company. In 1985, all of the Whopper Burger locations became Burger Kings. At last, the people of San Antonio could finally enjoy a real deal Whopper.