Liberty City Icon Jumbo's, the Temple of Fried Shrimp, Set to Close After Sale
After leading Miami's desegregation in the '60s, surviving the race riots of the '80s, and persevering despite a pickup truck slamming through its front and killing two customers in 2012, the legendary Liberty City soul food spot Jumbo's will close its doors Wednesday.
Courtesy of Adrianne D'Angelo Jumbo's days, sadly, are numbered.
Bobby Flam, who took over the restaurant from his father, Isadore, in 1966, has sold the 24-hour fried chicken, shrimp, and conch joint to a developer who plans to build affordable housing on the corner of NW Seventh Avenue and NW 75th Street.
The iconic seafoam-green restaurant might remain open for a few months while the developer sorts out permits, Flam said. His days, however, are numbered as he looks to spend more time with his three children, eight grandchildren, and other family members, including his son-in-law -- author and television host Brad Meltzer.
Flam, along with his family, moved from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania -- "the sticks" as he called it -- to Miami in 1955. His parents, aunt, and uncle bought a small diner called Jumbo Franks in a then-predominantly white neighborhood. They tore it down in 1957 to make way for the building that stands there today, where celebrities have torn into sputtering hot chicken wings, where music videos have been shot, and where the James Beard Foundation handed off the award for an American Classic in 2008.
"I worked at the restaurant since July 1, 1955, the first day we moved to Florida," Flam said. "My first job was answering the phone and taking the take-out orders."
He desegregated the restaurant in 1968, causing a significant dip in business for a worthwhile cause. African-Americans no longer had to use the rear entrance next to the dumpster or dine in a separate space. When he hired three black employees -- the first restaurant in white Miami to do so -- nearly 30 white employees quit in the following weeks.
"The people who liked integration kept coming, and the people who didn't stopped," he said.