In 2005, GQ food writer Alan Richman voted this Broward County saloon #1 on his nationwide list of “The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die.” Soon after, O magazine editor Gayle King jumped on the Le Tub bandwagon, featuring the restaurant on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
When I arrived, owner Steve had just left, but I managed to speak with maintenance man Joe Campbell, a North Miami Beach native who’s worked at the restaurant since it was transformed from a Sunoco station in 1975.
Joe said that after Le Tub was featured in GQ and on the Oprah Winfrey Show, “It went through the fucking ceiling.” It wasn’t unusual to find a two or three hour wait. And if you left the premises, you lost your place in line. Joe had the following advice for visitors: “When you walk in, take off your watch and you’ll have a good time.” Le Tub has become so popular that while I was there, a family from Romania entered and asked, “Is this the place with the famous hamburgers?” Why yes, yes it is. Thankfully, by stopping at Le Tub mid-afternoon, I was able to limit my wait time to 40 minutes.
In 2005, in order to quell the ridiculous expectations of gastronauts, the management was forced to add the following message to the menu: “We are a small restaurant. We do not serve fast food. We do regret that we may not be able to accommodate you as quickly as you’d like. But we will not let the wildly increasing demand affect the quality of our cooking!!”
According to Joe, Steve Sidle and wife Robin Sidle run the restaurant, but Russell Kohuth is the property owner. Russell made his fortune by flying Coppertone ad banners over area beaches. He was the first person to think to advertise that way. He ditched into the Atlantic Ocean six times, but was always back flying over the beach again the next morning. Russell sold his company several years ago and made a tidy profit. Now he’s a real estate maven and restaurateur.
According to the website, Russell “purchased the barren property in 74 and dedicated a concentrated year personally hand building Le Tub totally of Flotsam, Jetsam and ocean borne treasures all gathered daily over 4 years of day break jogging on Hollywood Beach.”
Outside, hand-painted signs listed Cleveland, Ohio – 1200 miles, Romania – 6600 miles and Marsh Harbour Jib Room – 192 miles. A red “USA” bomb was yet another character-building touch. Joe said, “We try to keep it as run down as possible.”
The printed menu touts “Le Grub of Le Tub.” There were some interesting options devised by night-chef Matthias, including chili, Salisbury steak, seafood salad marinated in herb dressing and seafood gumbo, but there was never any doubt about what I’d order: the prize-winning Sirloinburger.
Joe said the meat’s seasoned with a touch of garlic and McCormick seasoning, plus other “secrets.” The reason it takes so long is because the grill is so small, holding just 30 burgers at a time, a 5×6 grid. Since the patties are thicker than at other restaurants, they take 20 minutes to cook. That’s 90 burgers per hour.
Happily, I didn’t have any. While Le Tub did not serve the best burger I’ve ever eaten, it was certainly in my top three, and deserves to at least be mentioned in the conversation with Father’s Office in Santa Monica, California, and Hodad’s in San Diego.
Notes: No credit cards or checks. 21 or older only. In the evening, collared shirts and shoes are required.
Weight Loss Blog
December 24, 2008 at 6:50 PM
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