Council’s Bradenton Recreation for Burgers

The Bradenton Recreation Center (536 12th St W, Bradenton) goes way back to 1926. Council Smith purchased the then pool hall and watering hole where he worked in 1936.

In 1954, Council Smith moved the business to its current spot, right across from the old courthouse. His son Lawton eventually took over the shop after his father passed away in 1977. Lawton made their burgers legendary.

He was also the person who added the Council name to the landmark establishment. Lawton then retired and sold the business in 2016.

Council's Bradenton Recreation in Bradenton, Florida
Council’s Bradenton Recreation in Bradenton, Florida – PERMANENTLY CLOSED

A pair of new owners reopened it in February 2017 and renamed it Council’s Burgers Beer and Billiards. Its future was again in doubt, so I finally decided to take my advice and hit up Council’s Burgers Beer and Billiards for a burger and a brew.

Bud Light in a Frosty Mug from Council's Bradenton Recreation
Bud Light in a Frosty Mug

There was also a chili dog on the menu that I couldn’t turn down. I sat at the counter across from the old stove and spoke to Aaron (cook, bartender, historian).

He told me three of the four burners aren’t working, and the oven is now defunct, too. The grill and the broiler drawer for toasting the bread work perfectly fine.

Behind the Counter at Council's Bradenton Recreation
Love the McDonald’s Sign

Council’s Bradenton Recreation Old School Grill

Council's Bradenton Recreation Vintage Stove
Vintage Stove

The fresh beef patties find their way to the grill. The old, well-seasoned stove does all the work from there.

The hot dogs also managed to get a nice char on the outside. Unfortunately, I didn’t add any mustard to my chili dog, but it was tasty nonetheless, even though beans were part of the equation.

Council's Bradenton Recreation Double Cheeseburger
Double Cheeseburger

I waved off the lettuce and tomato for my burger. The assembly was different because the mayo and onions went on the bottom bun while the mustard and cheese were under the crown, aka the top bun.

Was Council's Bradenton Recreation Haunted?
Was Council’s Bradenton Recreation Haunted?

I enjoyed my conversation with Aaron about the ghosts at Council’s while I was downing their masterpiece double cheeseburger with an ice-cold beer in a frosty mug.

Council’s was haunted. If you want to hear the stories, you’ll need to track down Aaron; I’m sure he’s got plenty of them.

Unfortunately, Council’s Burgers Beer and Billiards closed permanently in March 2020.

4 thoughts on “Council’s Bradenton Recreation for Burgers”

  1. Lawton is a living legend!
    He made the best chile and burgers in the land.
    There is not a day that goes by I don’t miss the old man. Now that I am one myself, I have nowhere to get a great burger and a beer and be with my people. I was there when they were gutting the place. I asked where the grill was? I think it got tossed. Criminal!

  2. Thank you for the memories! I worked at a large bank just steps away from Council’s during the late 1960’s. I hope someone might help me remember the friendly card he put on each table. It invited customers to share their table and make a new friend. I still recall the sentiment and now that I live in a small North Carolina community with a very similar diner, I often think of Council’s and his offer to invite someone to join me. If anyone remembers the words on that card, please let me know – I’d like to share it with the owners of Wynn’s Diner in Leicester.


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