(SS) What happens when a Hamburger Mary’s franchise opens across the street from a former Hamburger Mary’s?
For John Zieba, co-owner of Rosie’s Bar & Grill in Wilton Manors, the result, lately, has been an amusing revival of old rumors, bitter breakups and an oddly persistent local urban legend.
“I’ve literally walked up to people having conversations about us being sued by the franchise and losing our name, and I have to giggle, because they explain what happened with such conviction,” Zieba says. “And none of it’s true.”
Here’s what is true: Hamburger Mary’s, a San Francisco-born franchise with 18 locations, will debut in June inside the former Rumors Bar & Grill at 2426 Wilton Drive, and will be operated by California-based partners Dale Warner and Ruben Lopez. It will feature over-the-top hamburgers, salads, flatbread pizzas and nightly drag performances. It’s a one-minute walk across the street to Rosie’s, which began its life as a Hamburger Mary’s in 2002 before dropping its franchise deal and rebranding after a mutual breakup in 2006.
Here’s what isn’t true: Everything else, Zieba says.
Lately the rumor mill has flared up on public Facebook community groups like “What’s Happening on the Drive Wilton Manors,” full of these comments: “Rosie’s ripped off Hamburger Mary’s and Hamburger Mary’s sued so they had to change the name to Rosie’s.” And “Rosie’s ripped off Mary’s menu and style cause THEY didn’t want to pay the franchise fee price.” And, best of all: “This is gonna be one big catfight!”
In reality, Rosie’s split from Hamburger Mary’s and changed the menu to avoid $15,000 in monthly franchise fees, Zieba says. Another reason Rosie’s left: The franchise wanted the restaurant to install expensive pizza ovens because flatbreads were trendy in the mid-2000s.
“I can’t believe we’re still talking about this 15 years later but you just have to brush it off,” Zieba says. “It’s not a competition, and we don’t have to make ordering burgers a tribal experience. It’s like what George from Georgie’s Alibi told me when we first opened: ‘Any business that you bring to the Drive is good business.’ "
And Hamburger Mary’s is good business, Wilton Manors commissioner Gary Resnick says.
“The fact that Hamburger Mary’s is moving across the street shows that, despite this pandemic, good restaurants are still coming to the Drive,” says Resnick, who has eaten at Rosie’s and its predecessor.
Hamburger Mary’s menu, still being finalized, features 17 gourmet burgers with cheeky names such as “Buffy the Hamburger Slayer,” stuffed with garlic, Swiss cheese, Caesar dressing and doused in red wine; and the “Barbara-Q Bacon Burger” topped with bacon, Jack and cheddar cheese, crispy onions and western barbecue sauce.
Customers can also build their own hamburgers with a choice of patty (American Wagyu, ostrich, buffalo, ground chuck or Angus beef blend), or go leaner with salmon, chicken breast, quinoa, black bean-and-veggie and Beyond meat. All hamburgers come with a choice of French fries, coleslaw and garden rice, and premium sides include onion rings, tater tots and steak-cut fries.
The restaurant’s appetizer menu, also massive, includes mac ‘n’ cheese balls and jalapeno poppers, chicken tenders, Asian potstickers and “Macho Mary Nachos” topped with steak chili or two-bean vegan chili. There are even non-burger entrees, such as Mary’s Fish & Chips with beer-battered cod, chicken and beef fajitas and seven flatbread pizzas ranging from tomato and basil to Hawaiian-style.
Along with beer, wine and champagne, Hamburger Mary’s cocktail menu includes Mary’s Glamorous Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, cherry) and Orange Creamsicle (orange vodka, candied oranges, whipped cream, Sprite).
There will also be 21-and-older nightly drag bingo, drag queen revues and Sunday drag brunch.
Which may, of course, compete with Rosie’s popular Sunday brunch. So does this mean we’re in store for another “big catfight”?
“We like Hamburger Mary’s,” Zieba says. “I think they’ll do fine on the Drive.”
Hamburger Mary’s, at 2426 Wilton Drive, in Wilton Manors, will debut this month. Hours of operation are still being finalized. Go to HamburgerMarys.com/WiltonManors.