The Bradenton Recreation Center (536 12th St W) goes way back to 1926. Council Smith purchased the then pool hall and watering hole where he worked in 1936.
In 1954, Council would move the business to its current spot, right across from the old courthouse. His son Lawton would eventually take the reins of 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.
It was reopened by a pair of new owners in February 2017 who renamed it Council’s Burgers Beer & Billiards. Unfortunately, it’s back on the market again.
UPDATE: Council’s has been closed since March 2020 and was sold once again in May 2020.
With its future again in doubt, I would not skip out on hitting up Council’s for a burger and a brew. So I finally decided to take my advice.
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. The oven is defunct too. The grill and the broiler drawer for toasting the bread are fine.
Old School Grills Rule
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 manage to get a nice char on the outside. Unfortunately, I didn’t add any mustard to my chili dog, but it was tasty nonetheless.
I told Aaron no go on the lettuce and tomato. The burger assembly was different cause the mayo and onions went on the bottom bun while the mustard & the cheese were under the crown, aka top bun.
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.
Yes, Council’s is haunted. If you want to hear the stories, you’re going to have to visit them and ask for yourself.