Burger Bob’s Diner in Coral Gables closes after 50 years

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A longtime Coral Gables restaurant that has endured as a mid-20th-century snapshot for more than five decades served its final platter of pancakes last week.

For more than 50 years, Burger Bob’s, which shared space with the Granada Golf Course Pro Shop, has been a go-to breakfast and lunch spot for locals. The cash-only restaurant was the quintessential favorite grease spoon in town.

Here, you can find a reliable meal for around $5 from a menu of classic American fare — everything from egg trays and pancakes for breakfast to sandwiches and hot pots for lunch. And, of course, the $5 burgers.

But it wasn’t the location, the food, or even the restaurant’s unique charm that made Burger Bob special. It’s the odd duo that’s been running it for 28 years.

Owner Robert “Bob” Maguire took over the restaurant in the early 1990s, and business partner Rita Tennyson joined several years later, serving as both chef and day-to-day manager.

For years the restaurant has been a successful operation thanks to its unique and kitsch charm. The mood was unmistakably nostalgic – like a scene from Cheers, minus the bar. Situated at the edge of the golf course with an almost perfect view of the first hole, it was a place some regulars were known to stop by twice a day and a well-known haunt for the city’s business crowd.

Despite its popularity, Burger Bob’s location in a city-owned building has sown rumors of its impending doom for years. In 2010, new times reported that the city was considering removing the restaurant as part of a large-scale redevelopment. But the development ended up going elsewhere, leaving Bob’s to continue operations.

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A view of Burger Bob’s from the golf course.

In October 2020, Burger Bob’s encountered its most formidable obstacle, in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable to serve customers or accept take-out orders, the restaurant turned to fundraising to stay afloat. Burger Bob’s GoFundMe has raised over $15,000.

The final blow to the restaurant came last June, when the City of Coral Gables told Tennyson and Maguire that their lease would not be renewed and that they would begin the RFP process to rehab the space with a new restaurant concept.

In recent months, community efforts on behalf of Burger Bob have resulted in an extension of the lease until March of this year.

But a day after the extension was granted, Maguire sent a letter to the city of Coral Gables stating that he would breach the contract and close the restaurant. A final farewell on Sunday, January 23, allowed long-time clients to bid farewell to the institution and the people who operated it.

new times attempted to contact city officials for details on what will happen to the space, but phone calls and emails were not returned. the Miami Herald reports that two bidders have been identified: Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and influential lobbyist; and Tennyson, who runs a catering operation from the restaurant’s kitchen.

“Our final farewell for Bob was largely to celebrate with customers and thank them for their support over the past few years,” Tennyson said. new times. “We have been fortunate to meet many amazing people who have become more than just customers. Over the years they have grown into true friendships. That is what we will miss the most.”

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