Like Nathan’s hot dogs from Coney Island, the name Arbetter means the most famous franks and fries in Miami. For 50 years the Arbetter family has been serving up their grandmother’s chili and tangy relish secret recipe to go along with the basic tried and true menu options.
Along with the indispensable addition of a friendly staff, Arbetter had all the ingredients necessary to make it to the 50th Anniversary celebration with a standing-room-only crowd.
“My brother Ronnie’s birthday was Apr. 15, tax day, and all his friends remembered it; who can forget that date?” said Jill Arbetter, coowner along with her brother, David. “We all miss him a lot so we decided to celebrate our anniversary on his birthday. Ronnie Arbetter ran the business handed down from his father, Bob, until Ronnie’s passing in late February of 2008 at 52 years old.”
Jill’s father Bob Arbetter, a 1948 University of Miami graduate, started the business near downtown Miami in 1962. Ten years later they moved to the current location on Bird Road just west of 87th Avenue. A transplant from Boston, founder Bob Arbetter loved sports (especially the Boston Red Sox and Celtics) so going into the hot dog business was a natural for this business major and his wife, Phyllis.
At the anniversary celebration, generations of customers came through the glass doors to patiently wait their turn at the counter while sharing stories about Ronnie and Bob and the many fun family times experienced at the local eatery.
Former area resident Carmen Aguiar used to bring her children to Arbetter for a special family outing when it was too expensive to have a fancy dinner out.
“We didn’t go out much in those days but when we brought the kids here they thought they were at the Hilton,” Aguiar said. “We would sit here as long as we wanted and Bob was just terrific. Ronnie was wonderful too, they treated you like family.”
The prices on the menu board above the grill read like it is still 1972. Hot dogs with mustard, relish, and onions are $1.95 and, if you want cheese fries with that add a buck and 55 cents. Chilidogs are a popular choice and special orders are welcomed. For free soda refills simply tell long time manager John Angelica, “I love Larry Bird” or “I love the Boston Red Sox.”
When asked what has made Arbetter so popular over the years, Angelica said good people, good prices, and a good product.
“I have been here just about since I was a student at Southwest High School working part time. I came back because the Arbetter family knows how to treat their staff and it’s a fun place to work.”
Although beloved brother, owner, and friend, Ronnie Arbetter is clearly missed and was honored at the tax day party with a special birthday cake to go along with the giant 50th Anniversary cake customers got to enjoy, the “local legend” left a legacy the next generation is picking up already.
Jill’s son, Andrew, is a charismatic 20- year-old college student who as a kid loved to hang out at the restaurant after school and would even try to skip class jut to go to his uncle’s place.
“My grandfather started the business in 1962 and we’re keeping it going and celebrating my uncle’s birthday today, too. We always have a good time; it doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Sunday. We want to keep it going forever.”