Old Miami Restaurant Buildings

Over the years, I’ve accumulated more knowledge of old Miami restaurants than I probably care to admit. I also like to investigate a building’s history and determine if there are any more like it left around town.

Unfortunately, Miami isn’t known for preserving its history, so sometimes, you will need to dig deeper for information. It also helps to have friends like Abel Sanchez, “Miami” Mike Hiscano, Phillip Pessar, and Gretchen Schmidt, who have answers when I’ve got a question.

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

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

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

Old Miami Restaurant Buildings
Old Miami Restaurant Buildings

A&W Root Beer Drive-In

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

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.

Root Beer Drive In in North Miami
The Former Root Beer Drive-In in North Miami

Root Beer Breakfast Bar

Root Beer Breakfast Bar
Root Beer Breakfast Bar

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.

The Root Beer Breakfast Bar has opened only for delivery, but I’m waiting to give it a try when it’s fully open.

Root Beer Breakfast Bar
11101 NW 27th Avenue
Miami, FL
(786) 703-9975

A&W Drive-In Commercial

Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips

Arthur Treacher's ad in the Miami Herald November 26, 1971
Arthur Treacher’s ad in the Miami Herald – November 26th, 1971

A stand-alone Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips has not been in South Florida for decades. The original Arthur Treacher expanded into Miami during the early 1970s and included five restaurants.

Three of these locations are still standing, albeit with slight structural changes. If Arthur Treacher sounds familiar to you, it might be that you’ve seen their fish and chips on the Miami Subs Grill menu.

Leo’s Pizza

Leo's Pizza, picture courtesy of Google Maps
Arthur Treacher’sLeo’s Pizza

Leo’s Pizza
6720 Coral Way
Miami, FL
(305) 661-4281

Pierre’s Caribbean Restaurant

Arthur Treacher's - Pierre's Caribbean Restaurant, picture courtesy of Google Maps
Arthur Treacher’sPierre’s Caribbean Restaurant

Pierre’s Caribbean Restaurant
11105 NW 7th Avenue
Miami, FL
(305) 418-0982

Steve’s Pizza

Steve's Pizza in North Miami, Florida
Arthur Treacher’sSteve’s Pizza

Steve’s Pizza
12101 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL
(305) 891-0202

Burger Castle

Burger Castle in Hialeah Postcard
Burger Castle in Hialeah Postcard

Burger Castle opened its first location in Hialeah on July 10th, 1964. You can read a full history via the 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

What's left of the Burger Castle sign
What’s left of the Burger Castle sign at Grace Pentecostal Church

Grace Pentecostal Church of Miami
17510 S Dixie Highway
Miami, FL
(305) 235-7477

1966 Burger Castle Radio Spot

Burger King

Burger King #2 in Miami, now La Palma restaurant
Burger King #2 in the 1950s

Burger King was founded as Insta Burger King way back in 1953. In 1954, it was franchised to a couple of fellas from Miami franchised the brand in Miami.

James McLamore and David Edgerton eventually took over the company and shortened its name to Burger King. The second BK location in Miami was open from 1955 to the early 1970s.

The space would become Polaris (aka Aqui Me Quedo) in 1979, then La Palma, and now Las Viñas BBQ.

Las Viñas BBQ

Las Viñas BBQ is replacing La Palma in West Miami, Florida
Burger KingLas Viñas BBQ transitioning from La Palma

Las Viñas BBQ
6091 SW 8th Street
West Miami, FL
(305) 694-2040

Chicken Unlimited

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

Chicken Unlimited was a fast-food chain based in Chicago, Illinois, that specialized in fried chicken. It had locations all over South Florida, but few buildings are still around.

Recently Torn Down

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

1971 Chicken Unlimited Commercial

Dairy Queen

In early 1964, Dairy Queen switched traditional buildings to three-story high tee types. However, their location on US1, which was the one that still operated out of these, recently closed.

But there is a former teepee structure on Bird Road, and it’s not an old IHOP like some people think.

Dairy Queen on US1
Dairy Queen at 8545 S Dixie Highway (Now Closed)

Bird Road Car Accessories

Bird Road Car Accessories, picture courtesy of Rodrigo Moreno
Dairy QueenBird Road Car Accessories, picture courtesy of Rodrigo Moreno

Bird Road Car Accessories
9000 SW 40th Street
Miami, FL
(305) 960-7457

Cool Property Fact

Many people don’t realize that one of Miami‘s landmark restaurants, Arbetter Hot Dogs, operated a drive-in with carhops at this location in 1963 before permanently moving to its current digs down the street in 1971.

Dinner Maid

Dinner Maid - The Miami News January 17, 1967
Dinner Maid in The Miami News – January 17th, 1967

Dinner Maid was a well-known fried chicken and seafood chain in Miami during the 1960s. At one point, pizza was even on the menu.

All restaurant locations were in a farmhouse-type property building. You can easily spot these around Miami since they do stand out.

In the early 1970s, after Dinner Maid shut down operations, many became Lelly’s Drive-In Photos. Lelly’s was last seen open in 1982.

Dinner Maid ad in the Miami News April 12, 1964
Dinner Maid ad in the Miami News – April 12th, 1964

Botanica El Viejo Lazaro

Dinner Maid-Botanica, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar
Dinner MaidBotanica, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Botanica El Viejo Lazaro
5800 W Flagler Street
Miami, FL
(305) 269-0045

Ping House

Dinner Maid-Ping House, picture courtesy of Google Maps
Dinner MaidPing House

Dinner Maid
5315 NW 36th Street
Miami Springs, FL
(305) 871-6144

CFA Design Group

CFA Design Group in Miami, Florida
Dinner MaidCFA Design Group in Miami, Florida
Dinner Maid-Subway, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar
This location was a Subway for many years, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

CFA Design Group
7379 SW 40th St
Miami, FL
(305) 492-2845

Dobbs House, then Steak ‘N Egg Kitchen

Dobbs Houses ad - September 16th, 1963
Dobbs Houses ad – September 16th, 1963

It can get a little confusing when discussing Dobbs House, Steak ‘N Egg Kitchen, and Toddle House. So we’ll stick to Dobbs House locations that became Steak ‘N Egg Kitchen.

Dobbs House was probably best known for being the restaurant located in the Miami International Airport for years and years. On December 6th, 1974, the Miami News announced that Toddle House had become Steak ‘N Egg Kitchen.

Sakura

Dobbs House-Sakura, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar
Dobbs HouseSakura Sushi Bar, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Sakura Sushi Bar
1180 SW 57th Avenue
West Miami, FL
(786) 254-7931

Tinta y Cafe

Dobbs House-Tinta y Cafe, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar
Dobbs HouseTinta y Cafe under construction, picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Tinta y Cafe
1315 Ponce de Leon
Coral Gables, FL
(305) 285-0101

VACANT

DOBBS House - Chez Madame Johns
Dobbs HouseChez Madame Johns (Now Closed), picture courtesy of Phillip Pessar

VACANT
975 NE 125th Street
North Miami, FL 33161

VACANT

Former DOBBS House - Empty
Dobbs House – Vacant Property

VACANT
521 NW 103rd Street
Miami, FL

My dad worked for Wise Potato Chips in the early 1980s, and Dobbs House was part of his route. It was long after the Steak ‘N Egg and Todd House years.

LUMS

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

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 2009. Bellevue, Nebraska’s LUMS closed in June 2017, leaving a beer-steamed hot dog gap in the comfort food time continuum.

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

Fritanga Monimbo

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

If you mosey on down to Miami Springs, you will find a relatively good-looking LUMS building. 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.

Fritanga Monimbo
4441 NW 36th Street
Miami Springs, FL
(305) 888-7156

1975 LUMS Commercial

Taco Olé

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

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. In 1983, Taco Viva purchased Tacos Olé and merged the chains. The original Tacos Olé restaurant at 6500 Bird Road became Taco Viva.

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

Sabor Latino

Sabor Latino in the former Taco Viva building
Sabor Latino in the former Tacos Olé and Taco Viva building

Sabor Latino Cubano Criollo Restaurant
6500 Bird Road
Miami, FL
(786) 773-2940

Some TropiBurger, WUVS, LUMS & Burger Castle items from the Burger Beast Museum collection
TropiBurger, WUVS, LUMS, and Burger Castle from the Burger Museum collection

I happen to own a full set of Burger Castle restaurant blueprints, which is how I know the signs outside 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!

13 thoughts on “Old Miami Restaurant Buildings”

  1. What restaurant was at 1 South Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. This is the current location of Smith & Wolenskis today and I know that Smith and & Wolenski’s replaced it around 1988-1990.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks Scott

    Reply
  2. Congrats, as always, Burger Beast, for your great work! Many thanks for sharing all this wonderful history, photographs, and knowledge.

    I have been searching for a while any photographs, location and information related to a restaurant that my father used to go to when he arrived from Cuba in 1962. He was making ends meet and recalls, while walking towards the Freedom Tower, having lunch in a restaurant called “Restaurante Camagüey”, which was owned by Alipio Garcia… who in Havana had owned (in 1956) the iconic cabaret “Ali Bar”, where Benny More often sang (once doing a duet with Mexican actress Maria Felix) — and where Ernest Hemingway would go to enjoy live Cuban music.

    The list is long of other 1950s singers who performed at the Ali Bar (Orlando Vallejo, Roberto Faz, Orlando Contreras, Ñico Membiela, Blanca Rosa Gil, Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, and Celeste Mendoza).

    Once exiled in Miami, Alipio opened this “Camagüey” restaurant. From my dad’s recollection (he’s almost 88 y/o but with great memory), he mentioned it was located on SW 8th Street and perhaps 6,7, 8 Avenue. Again, we are talking almost 62 years ago, but perhaps this might ring a bell and you might have something in your marvelous archives, or that of your collaborators?

    Many thanks and keep up the amazing work!

    Reply
  3. what was the history of les violins a super club my dad frequently took us there ,I celebrated my 15 th birthday there.Wonder about it’s history .

    Reply
  4. I remember Polaris well. They were open late night and we’d go eat platillos voladores after an open house or Quinces (with the obligatory chaperona)!

    Reply
  5. I love this article and can’t wait for Part Two.
    I lived next door to Arthur Treacher’s on Coral Way when they built it. At closing time, they would give my girlfriend & I all the cooked fish not sold. Pretty cool for two 20 year old MDCC-S students.
    La Palma was a great late-nite spot to hit after a late night at Tobacco Road, but I was going there when they opened it. Before they built a screened-in patio (AC came later), you could eat in the sweltering heat at a table on the west side.
    The DQ on Dixie is south of a car lot, but before that, there was an under-the-ground bar called Jason’s. The band I was managing, Off The Wall (or the Fat Chance Blues Band) was the house band. The owner of Jason’s wanted to put a big sign on the DQ roof, but the owner declined. So the owner of Jason’s (who also owned the Organ Grinder further south) bought the DQ. And put up his sign.

    Reply

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