1972 - the first Tony Roma's Place restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami
Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami, Florida
Image courtesy of the Roma Corporation and cleaned up for display on this site. Tony Roma, former food and beverage specialist for the Playboy Club, opened up his first restaurant on a narrow strip of land between the FEC Railroad tracks and Biscayne Boulevard (US 1) in North Miami on January 20, 1972. They initially offered hamburgers and steaks until chef David Smith cooked up some baby back ribs garnished with Tony Roma's barbecue sauce that were served on weekends. The baby back ribs became so popular that they became the most popular item on the menu. We patronized this restaurant numerous times in the mid to late 1970's and early 1980's and the whole place would rumble when a fast moving train went by on the adjacent tracks west of the restaurant. It was pure luck that we would arrive and there wouldn't be a line of 25 to 50 people waiting outside to be seated. I believe the restaurant was wiped out when US1 was widened by the state DOT.
Tony Roma's expanded from one restaurant after Clint Murchison Jr., owner of the Dallas Cowboys, dined there in January 1976 while in Miami for the Super Bowl. He liked the food so much he formed a partnership with Tony Roma and formed the Roma Corporation. Mr. Murchison bought the majority of franchise rights from Mr. Roma and expanded internationally. Mr. Murchison sold his ownership shares to his children in 1984 and he passed away in 1987. Mr. Roma also sold his ownership shares to Mr. Murchison's children.
Tony Roma passed away in 2003 from lung cancer in Hemet, California, at the age of 78. His obituary is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/17/business/tony-roma-78-began-chain-of-rib-restaurants.html
There used to be a Tony Roma's restaurant on the south side of Main Street in Miami Lakes across from the movie theatres but they allegedly left because the Graham Companies really jacked up the lease rates when the old lease expired even though Main Street has had an outstanding number of failed businesses on it ever since it was built. Main Street needs a popular restaurant like Tony Roma's to attract people to the street and they lost Tony Roma's due to greedy rental practices. Some non-descript restaurant is now operating where Tony Roma's was and we won't patronize it. Now our closest Tony Roma's is a beautiful restaurant on NW 87th Avenue in Doral which we patronize at least monthly and the food there is great, especially the baby back ribs and the very reasonably priced desserts.
LG LG-H811, Image #20160827_192723
Unless otherwise noted under the right bottom of the photo, all images are copyrighted by Don Boyd