Old Miami Restaurant Buildings Part 2

All you historical types out there seemed to love Part 1 of this new series I’m writing about old Miami restaurant buildings. I spoke about Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Dinner Maid, and Dobbs House in the previous post.

This time we take the deep dive into buildings that once housed an A&W Root Beer Drive-In, Burger Castle, Chicken Unlimited, LUMS, and Tacos Olé. It’s a good one; I hope you enjoy it.

As always, please leave your favorite memories and observations in the comments area at the bottom of the page.

P.S.: You might want to try your hand at the Miami Burger Quiz.

These Are The Rules

Over the years I’ve accumulated more local restaurant knowledge than I probably care to admit. Miami isn’t known for preserving its history well, so sometimes you will need to dig a little deeper for information.

It also helps to have friends like Abel Sanchez, Mike Hiscano, Ted Niarhos, Phillip Pessar, and Gretchen Schmidt who help me when I’ve got a question I can’t find an answer for. One thing I like to do is investigate the history of a building and then find out if there are any more like it left around town.

Sometimes only a one-off building is still standing. But if you’re really paying attention, it will open up a new world to you when you’re driving around town.

If you enjoyed this little slice of Miami restaurant education then I’d appreciate it if you could share this post with your friends. Thanks.

A&W Root Beer Drive-In

Back in 1956, there were hundreds of A&W Drive-Ins all over the United States. The Root Beer Drive-in location at 11101 NW 27th Avenue was a former A&W Drive-in until the mid-80s when their license expired.

They served housemade root beer right up until their closing in 2018. The new tenants, Root Beer Breakfast Bar, have kept a portion of the original structure and, by the looks of the name, its housemade root beer.

No opening date has been set for the Root Beer Breakfast Bar, but I’m looking to get it a whirl.

A&W in the MiamiHerald - December 1982
A&W at 11101 NW 27th Avenue in the Miami Herald – December 9th, 1982
Root Beer Drive In in North Miami
Root Beer Drive In in North Miami

Root Beer Breakfast Bar

11101 NW 27th Avenue

Root Beer Breakfast Bar
Root Beer Breakfast Bar

A&W Drive-In Commercial

Burger Castle

Burger Castle opened its first location in Hialeah on July 10th, 1964. You can read a full history on them via my There was a Burger Castle Once Upon a Time post.

Burger Castle would eventually expand out of Florida but had pretty much disappeared by the mid to late 1970s. Yet, somehow, the bottom half of the giant 21-foot sign that sat outside of all locations is still around more than 50 years later.

Take a drive down to 175th and US1, then marvel at the bottom half of the Burger Castle’s sign and the giant’s legs.

Burger Castle in Hialeah Postcard
Burger Castle in Hialeah Postcard

Grace Pentecostal Church of Miami

17510 S Dixie Highway

What's left of the Burger Castle sign
What’s left of the Burger Castle sign

1966 Burger Castle Radio Spot

Chicken Unlimited

Chicken Unlimited was a fast-food chain based out of Chicago, Illinois, which specialized in, you guessed it, fried chicken. There were locations all over South Florida, but few buildings are still around except the restaurant on Bird Road.

The space is currently abandoned but has housed a Chinese restaurant for many years. Let’s hope takes it over who can appreciate its history and does something great with it, food or otherwise.

Chicken Unlimited ad in the Miami Herald 9-1-85
Chicken Unlimited ad in the Miami Herald 9-1-85

Currently Abandoned

6757 SW 40th Street

Former Chicken Unlimited building picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar
Former Chicken Unlimited building picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

1971 Chicken Unlimited Commercial


Looking for work back in 1972?

LUMS Employment ad in the Miami Herald March 6th, 1972
LUMS Employment ad in the Miami Herald March 6th, 1972

LUMS was another South Florida staple in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Ollie’s Trolley’s offshoot brand never made a real go of it here in Miami, but there are a few locations left in other states.

The last official South Florida LUMS restaurant was in Davie, which closed in July of 2009. Bellevue, Nebraska’s LUMS closed in June 2017, leaving a beer steamed hot dog gap in the comfort food time continuum.

If you mosey on down to Miami Springs (4441 NW 36th Street), there is a LUMS building in relatively great shape. This location closed its doors in 1985.

Since then, it’s been Nicole’s Restaurant (1986), Wings N’ Things (1990), Chu’s Chinese Restaurant (2001), Thai Palace (2006), and Fritanga Monimbo since 2012.

Last LUMS in Bellevue, Nebraska closed in June 2017
Last LUMS in Bellevue, Nebraska closed in June 2017

Fritanga Monimbo

4441 NW 36th Street

Fritanga Monimbo in a former LUMS building
Fritanga Monimbo in a old LUMS building

1975 LUMS Commercial

Taco Olé

In the 1960s, Mexican restaurants were not a dime a dozen like they are now. On January 11th, 1969, Richard “Dick” Hissing founded Tacos Olé in Miami at 6500 Bird Road.

The chain would grow to eight locations:

5875 NW 36th StreetVirginia Gardens
6500 Bird RoadWest Miami
9561 Colonial DrivePalmetto Bay
9809 Sunset DriveKendall
14801 NE 6th AvenueMiami
18690 South Dixie HighwayCutler Bay
US1 & Mowry DriveHomestead
851 West Oakland Park BoulevardFt. Lauderdale

Their main competitor was the Broward-based Taco Viva. Taco Viva would purchase Tacos Olé then merge the chains into one. The original Tacos Olé restaurant at 6500 Bird Road would become Taco Viva in 1983.

It has since gone through various tenants, including Picnics, which initially ran the diner at the now-defunct Allens Drugstore on 57th Avenue.

Tacos Olé - Miami Herald 1-11-69
Tacos Olé – Miami Herald January 11th, 1969

Sabor Latino

6500 Bird Road

Sabor Latino in the former Taco Viva building
Sabor Latino in the former Tacos Olé & Taco Viva building
Some TropiBurger, WUVS, LUMS & Burger Castle items from the Burger Beast Museum collection
Some TropiBurger, WUVS, LUMS & Burger Castle items from my collection

I happen to own a full set of Burger Castle restaurant blueprints which is how I know the sign outside of the locations were 21 feet tall.

Also, the portion left of the sign at the 17510 S Dixie Highway location is 15 feet tall. Bet you didn’t know that!

8 thoughts on “Old Miami Restaurant Buildings Part 2”

  1. Good day
    There was a building, I believe was a restaurant (Seafood) nextdoor to club Pink Pussycat in Miami/Hialeah that had a caravel ship o the front wall that rocked back & forth. Any idea?
    Thank you.

  2. Chicken Unlimited in south beach, was a favorite after spending half the day at the beach, in the early 70s. Miss those days.

  3. I remember going to Lum’s in Westchester after Columbus Football games on Friday nights. I loved their beer-steamed hot dogs and French fries, but I’m pretty sure nobody every thought to tip the waitresses. I’m sure they dreaded those Friday night football games as much as I looked forward to them. I still cook my hot dogs in beer, as a remembrance of Lum’s.

  4. Thanks for remembering Chicken Unlimited, Sef! They had great chicken. Also remember Scott’s Fried Chicken? Seemed as if they opened all over town overnite!


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