Pumpernik's, Miami Beach 1950s
In the 1950s and 60s, the resort city of Miami Beach, Florida, was a “deli town.” Wolfie’s, Rascal House, Juniors and Pumpernik's all served knishes, chopped liver, brisket, bagels and cheesecake to Jewish retirees or snowbirds who fled winter in New York and who missed the food at home.
Pumpernik’s was opened in 1952 by Charles Linksman and the restaurant was named after a cartoon character called Uncle Pumpernickel. With his white hair, handlebar moustache and chef’s hat, Uncle P was a jolly character and a life size rendition of him greeted customers at the entrance.
In the late 1950s, a disc jockey called Larry King broadcast his first radio show from a Pumpernik’s banquette and became a talk show host. His first interview was with one of the waiters but, out of the blue, crooner Bobby Darin, famous for his rendition of Beyond The Sea, walked in and King’s. talk show career was on its way. The popular comedian Jackie Gleason was a regular guest and other interviewees included Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Jimmy Stewart. Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa and Playboy Club owner Hugh Hefner dropped in when they were on vacation. “ It was seat-of-the-pants stuff, recalled King. “ I never knew who would walk through the door.”
From then on, customers flocked to Pumpernik’s not just for the food, but for the chance to rub shoulders with celebrities who came to be interviewed.
Pumpernik’s expanded to other locations across Florida and was sold. A franchise operation was popular for a while but time and tastes had moved on and they never recaptured the glory of the original Pumpernik’s and they closed.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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