Great American Burger Emporium aka GABE’s Burgers

Gabe’s Burgers was my favorite burger joint growing up. I loved Rudy’s, but it was Gabe’s that had my meat-loving heart.

Gabe’s was an acronym for Great American Burger Emporium, but most folks (myself included) had no idea. The restaurant set-up was similar to Checkers/Rally’s, with outdoor seating via tables covered by umbrellas and drive-thrus on either side of the building.

The burger, as best I can remember, was char-grilled, and the fries were fresh cut with some seasoned salt on them. If I were a betting man, I’d say Lawry’s.

GABE’S Burger Info

Here’s all the info I have about the company, and to this day, I have never been able to track down a picture of any of the restaurant locations.

On April 19th, 1985, DRIVE THRU BURGER CORP filed incorporation paperwork. According to the Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark, the first use of the Gabe’s Burgers logo was on October 20th, 1985.

I’m going to go ahead and assume this was Gabe’s opening day. The first two locations were the drive-thru on LeJeune and the one I frequented in Westchester.

I remember sitting in the front passenger seat while my dad placed our order and picked up the grub. On a few occasions, I was distracted and would be watching whatever was going on at the China Maid restaurant next door.

Continued Expansion

At some point in early 1990, Gabe’s Burgers owned a food truck that regularly parked at Southwest High School during lunchtime. The truck sold hamburgers, french fries, and shakes.

The third restaurant opened in late 1987 or early 1988. By May 1991, it had become Hot ‘n Now, which also didn’t fare well in South Florida.

In May 1990, Gabe’s would open in Hialeah Gardens. The official grand opening wouldn’t happen until noon on Saturday, June 16th, 1990.

The celebration included a live Latin band performing, free popcorn, coupons, and two bicycle raffles. The menu at this location featured hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, french fries, and frozen yogurt.

In other words, pretty much what all of the other locations sold.

The LeJeune location was the last Gabe’s open by the summer of 1993. An ad in the newspaper on December 6th, 1993, mentioned that all contents of the LeJeune location would be sold.

I ate there in August of that year, unaware that it would be the last time I would enjoy a meal from the Great American Burger Emporium.

Coupon from the Miami Herald December 12th, 1985
Miami Herald December 12th, 1985
GABE's in The Miami News January 10, 1986
The Miami News January 10th, 1986
Coupon from the Miami Herald January 26, 1986
The Miami Herald January 26th, 1986
GABE's ad in the Miami Herald August 24, 1986
GABE’s employment ad in the Miami Herald August 24th, 1986
Coupon from the Miami Herald July 18th, 1990
The Miami Herald July 18th, 1990
GABE's Burgers Coupon
Coupon picture courtesy of Alicia Acosta
GABE's Flyer from my Burger Museum collection
GABE’s Flyer from my Burger Museum collection

GABE’S Burgers Locations

Flagami835 NW 42nd AvenueLatin Cafe 2000
Hialeah Gardens7901 NW 103rd StreetMater Academy
Miramar3700 S State Road 7Captain Max
Westchester9290 Bird RoadFirst Bank Florida

Weird GABE’S Burgers Fact

I recently discovered that a copycat, Gabe’s Burgers existed in Managua.

During an October 1991 New Times article, GABE’s owner Lewis Goodman mentioned their trademark not carrying much weight in Nicaragua. I wonder how authentic the food was compared to the Miami version.

GABE's mention in the Miami Herald May, 9, 1996
Miami Herald May 9th, 1996

Got any memories of GABE’s, I’d love to hear about them.

6 thoughts on “Great American Burger Emporium aka GABE’s Burgers”

  1. I lived really close to Lejeune one and it was the tastiest burger for me in my whole life. the only burger that has ever reminded me of gabes was in universal studios in a place called Mel’s diner. I remember the gabes foil and the burger flavor so well. my all time favorite!!!

  2. Hey there, Burger Beast. My husband worked there in his youth – at the Bird Rd location. He remembers it vividly and wanted to share some “secrets.” Fries were frozen and seasoned with 50/50 Lawry’s Seasoned Salt/regular table salt. On the hot dogs, the grill marks were not legitimate. They were achieved by using a press with grill lines and then they were steamed. Gabe’s had a camera that allowed you to see the person taking your order from the menu in the drive-thru. He remembers that at Bird Rd. but thinks they all had that.


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