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.
Old Miami Restaurant Buildings Table of Contents
- These Are The Rules
- A&W Root Beer Drive-In
- Burger Castle
- Chicken Unlimited
- Taco Olé
- Cool Burger Beast Related Fact
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 doing a good job of preserving its history so sometimes you will need to dig a little deeper for information.
It also helps to have friends like Abel Sanchez, Mike Hiscano, TheTed Niarhos, Phillip Pessar, and Gretchen Schmidt who help me when I’ve got a question that I can’t find an answer for. One thing I like to do is investigate the history of a building 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.
Root Beer Breakfast Bar
A&W Drive-In Commercial
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.
Grace Pentecostal Church of Miami
1966 Burger Castle Radio Spot
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.
6757 SW 40th Street
1971 Chicken Unlimited Commercial
Looking for work back in 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.
4441 NW 36th Street
1975 LUMS Commercial
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 Street – Virginia Gardens
6500 Bird Road – West Miami
9561 Colonial Drive – Palmetto Bay
9809 Sunset Drive – Kendall
14801 NE 6th Avenue – Miami
18690 South Dixie Highway – Cutler Bay
US1 & Mowry Drive – Homestead
851 West Oakland Park Boulevard – Ft. 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.
6500 Bird Road
Cool Burger Beast Related Fact
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!