RIP Ronnie Arbetter!
This is the Miami Herald story on March 3, 2008, about Ronnie's passing:
RONNIE V. ARBETTER, 52
Hot dog aficionado took over family eatery
BY JOSE PAGLIERY, jpagliery@MiamiHerald.com
Ronnie Arbetter's preferred hot dog was a mustard kraut: a line of mustard and sour cabbage.
He grew up in the family business, Arbetter's Hot Dogs, founded in 1960, working there after school and taking it over after his father's death in 2002.
Ronnie Arbetter, 52, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer.
''Everybody that walked in through the door was a friend to him,'' said restaurant manager Jose Gadea.
Arbetter attended Southwest Senior High School, where he played on the basketball team.
''He put the lightning-fast speed he'd picked up working in the restaurant's kitchen to work on the basketball court,'' said his best friend Doug Kirk.
'When they used to scrimmage, the boys would say, `I'm not covering Arbetter,' '' Kirk recalled.
After graduation, Arbetter stayed with the family business, located at 87th Avenue and Bird Road in Westchester.
The young man would open the shop before the crack of dawn, preparing tables, meat and bread for the day ahead. He learned how to recognize when the hot dogs were just soft and fat enough and how steamed the buns could be without getting soggy.
In 1987, Ronnie and his brother Dave joined forces and opened Flaminia's Italian Restaurant -- named after their mother -- in Cocoa Beach. The also expanded the hot dog empire to restaurants in Cocoa, North Miami and Hialeah. The last two have since closed.
Under Ronnie Arbetter's watch, kitchens had no timers, employees used common sense and ''feel-good'' logic -- and customers felt welcome.
The restaurant became a pre-game hangout spot where athletes from nearby high schools -- Columbus, Southwest and Coral Park -- would meet.
It was also the site of South Florida's largest World Series party in 2004.
When the original restaurant opened in 1960, Robert Arbetter -- Ronnie and Dave's father -- had promised free baked beans when his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, won the World Series.
Robert Arbetter didn't live to see the day, but on Oct. 28, 2004, his sons delivered on his promise, giving out free services of baked beans, tinged with the flavor of salt, onion and molasses.
Ronnie was himself a sports fan, often attending University of Miami and Miami Dolphins football games with Kirk.
It was two years ago that a persistent stomach ache kept Ronnie from frequenting his favorite games.
In May 2007, Arbetter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but at first he would not let that deter him from working or hot dog-hunting.
Even after receiving chemotherapy near Mercy Hospital every other Tuesday morning for months, the Arbetter brothers would have two hot dogs each at A.C.'s Icees on their way out of Coconut Grove.
At other times, the team would go hot dog hunting across town, eating at Los Perros, Dogma Grill, Skyline Chili and Franktitude.
''Anytime we saw hot dog stands, we'd go,'' Dave recalled.
Ronnie Arbetter continued to manage the Westchester restaurant until late last year, when his once-heavily-built body grew too weak to keep working.
''I miss the customers,'' Ronnie told the Herald in November. ``. . . I've got to admit I do miss the store, even the employees.''
In addition to his brother, Arbetter is survived by sister Jill Arbetter.
Arbetter's Hot Dogs, which is open 365 days a year, will be closed Sunday in Arbetter's memory.
A memorial celebration will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hooligan's Pub and Oyster Bar, 9555 S. Dixie Hwy.
Ronnie's obituary from the Miami Herald:
Arbetter, Ronnie, 52
Local Legend and Unforgettable Friend Ronnie Arbetter - Owner of Arbetter's Hot Dogs died on February 28,2008 of Pancreatic Cancer. A Miami native, he graduated from Southwest High School in 1973. He also received a degree from Barry University. He was a star basketball player for Southwest and was named Honorable Mention All City his senior year. He carried on a tradition at Arbetter's, a local landmark since 1960, of treating everyone who worked their like family. He was a great brother, and an incredible friend. He was deeply loved by so many people and he will be missed forever. In addition, Ronnie was a truly kindhearted person who had no enemies, only friends. He is survived and loved by his brother Dave Arbetter, Dave's wife Patty Arbetter and their children David Arbetter and Austin Arbetter. He also had a loving sister, Jill Arbetter and her two children, Andrew Lister and Casey Lister. There will be a memorial celebration of Ronnie's life on Sunday March 2 at Hooligan's at 9555 South Dixie Hwy., S. Miami from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. To visit this Guest Book Online, go to www.MiamiHerald.com/obituaries.
Published in The Miami Herald on 3/2/2008.
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