Remembering LUMS Restaurant + History

LUMS was a popular American restaurant chain founded in 1956 by Stuart and Clifford S. Perlman in Miami Beach, Florida. The chain was known for its signature hot dogs, which were cooked in beer and served in a steamed bun.

LUMS gained popularity for its unique menu items and casual dining atmosphere.

A classic LUMS restaurant in 1973
A classic LUMS restaurant in 1973

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, LUMS experienced rapid expansion, growing to over 400 locations across the United States and internationally. The company went public in 1969, trading on the American Stock Exchange.

However, despite its initial success, LUMS began to face financial troubles in the mid-1970s. The expansion had stretched the company thin, and it struggled to maintain profitability. Additionally, changes in consumer preferences and increased competition in the fast-food industry posed challenges to LUMS.

In 1978, LUMS filed for bankruptcy protection. The following year, the company was acquired by John Y. Brown Jr., who was known for revitalizing struggling restaurant chains. Brown attempted to turn LUMS around by implementing various changes, including menu updates and cost-cutting measures.

Despite these efforts, LUMS continued to struggle financially, and many of its locations were eventually closed. By the early 1980s, the Lum’s chain had largely disappeared, with only a few locations remaining open.

Today, LUMS is remembered as a nostalgic part of American dining history. Those who had the chance to visit its restaurants during its heyday fondly remember its distinctive hot dogs and unique dining experience.

Ollie’s Trolley History

Ollie's Trolley
Ollie’s Trolley

Ollie’s Trolley was an offshoot brand of the restaurant chain LUMS. In 1956, Brothers Stuart and Clifford Perlman purchased a 16-seat diner in Miami Beach from its founder, Burnett Carvin. LUMShot dogs steamed in beer cemented their now legendary status.

The brothers would grow LUMS to over 300 locations throughout the United States. Then, after purchasing the Caesars Palace Casino (Las Vegas) in 1969, they turned around and sold LUMS to John Y. Brown in 1971.

The Colonel of Burgers?

Ollie's Trolley for Sale in 1981
Ollie’s Trolley for Sale Classified Ad in 1981

If that name seems familiar, it’s because he was the governor of Kentucky at one point and, most importantly, the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Company. He purchased the Kentucky Fried Chicken concept from Colonel Sanders and helped build an iconic brand worldwide.

Brown was looking to spruce up LUMS a little bit with the best burger recipe around. So, in 1971, the burger from Ollie’s Sandwich Shop (which seated about 20 folks) was brought to his attention. He ate the burger and loved it.

Brown tried to buy the burger recipe multiple times, but Ollie Gleichenhaus (the owner) turned him down each time. He even offered to make Ollie more famous than Colonel Sanders.

After working on his ego, Brown eventually wears him down, and after 37 years of running his shop, Ollie closes up. He works on streamlining the 32-spice burger recipe with the LUMS folks.

A Trolley for Ollie

Ollie's Trolley - Evening Sun October 13th, 1976
LUMS Ollie GleichenhausThe Evening Sun October 13th, 1976

While this happened, Brown worked on a separate concept involving a trolley car that would only serve take-out food. These trolleys would easily fit in 3 car spaces. At some point, merging the Ollie Burger with the trolley concept happened.

In early 1973, the first Ollie’s Trolley opened in Louisville, Kentucky, and within three years, there were almost 100 locations. Unfortunately, the Ollie’s Trolley concept never really caught on. By the early 1980s, it was rapidly disappearing across the U.S. landscape.

One crucial tidbit for those who would like to relive your Ollie Burger fantasies and can’t make it to any of the last locations: The Ollie Burger recipes can be found HERE.

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