Goodbye to Burger Bob’s

Bob Maguire Hangs Up His Apron for Good 

Add Burger Bob’s to the book of Coral Gables memories. After almost 30 years of serving up cheeseburgers, chili, and breakfast eggs and sausage at the Granada Golf Course, the much-loved throw-back diner is no more. It’s last day, busy with loyal customers, was Friday, Jan. 21, followed by a farewell party the ensuing Sunday. 

“I am honored and privileged to have had this restaurant and the experience in the space and I must tell you this truly breaks my heart to be closing these doors,” said Bob Maguire in a Facebook post announcing his decision. Maguire, 85, added, “I feel the time has come for me to stand down.” 

The restaurant, which is part of the building that houses the pro shop at the first tee of the golf course, has been under siege since the pandemic hit, followed by the expiration of Maguire’s lease with the city last August. A crowd-funding effort last summer on a GoFundMe page, entitled Helping Burger Bob’s, raised more than $15,000 to help pay the bills, and the city lowered rent to $1,000 a month and extended the lease several times – the latest extension taking it through March. 

Goodbye to Burger Bob's
The last meal with long-time customers saying goodbye to Burger Bob’s.
A last ditch effort by the community to save Burger Bob’s from closing.
Goodbye to Burger Bob's
Bob Maguire in happier days behind the counter.

But the difficulty of running a restaurant with a month- to-month lease took its toll, along with pressure that came from an unsolicited bid by the Barreto Hospitality Group (now withdrawn), which sought to assume the lease and upscale the premises with an investment of $800,000. “It is just impossible to run a business on a month-to-month basis,” said Rita Tennyson, the restaurant manager and Bob’s right-hand-woman for most of the last three decades. “I am sad about this, and Bob even more so.” 

Tennyson herself put in a bid to assume the lease with a $60,000 investment offer. After considering both options, the city put out another request for bids. A third was submitted by Australia native Nick Sharp, the Gables entrepreneur who launched and runs Threefold Café on Giralda Plaza and Bay 13 Brewery and Kitchen on Alhambra Circle. 

Sharp says he would offer “breakfast, lunch and a simple dinner, nothing high-end or too fancy, in line with what we have at Threefold.” Sharp did not say how much he was prepared to spend but noted “the space has been heavily neglected for a long time and needs major capital investment.” 

So, could Down Under-style smashed avocado, Pope Benedict eggs and lamb burgers be next on the menu of the restaurant that succeeds Burger Bob’s? City manager Peter Iglesias is to review the bids and make a recommendation to the commission, while the City moves forward with renovations. 

In the meantime, a cherished part of the community’s fabric has been closed, at least for now. “The sad thing is the people we see here, we’ll never see anywhere else,” said Mari Arnold, a longtime customer, at the Sunday goodbye party. “This is a piece of history disappearing before our eyes.” 

That sentiment was shared by dozens of customers who loved the $5 hamburgers and the $4 chili, and who joined Bob and Rita for the bittersweet farewell. “Going to Burger Bob’s is like coming home,” says Hank Langston, a customer for 20 years, who visited about 3 times a week. But in this case, you can’t go home again – though you can order from Rita’s new catering business.