The fate of beloved Delray Beach restaurant Doc’s All American could soon be decided

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Mar 04, 2022 4:31 PM

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DELRAY BEACH — After languishing in limbo for the past year, the fate of one of Delray Beach’s most iconic and beloved establishments, Doc’s All American, could be decided within the next few months.

And its future is likely tied to a proposed three-story building that’s generated some pushback from the city over its size and location in the city’s historic district.

The historic burger and ice cream shop, which is reminiscent of the retro drive-in restaurants from “Happy Days,” has operated on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Swinton since 1951, serving generations of a Delray Beach residents, family and friends.

Doc's All American, which opened in 1951, has remained a cornerstone of downtown Delray Beach for more than 70 years.

Doc’s All American, which opened in 1951, has remained a cornerstone of downtown Delray Beach for more than 70 years. (Courtesy: Delray Beach Historical Society)

“It’s become a beloved, treasured destination,” said Winnie Edwards, executive director of the Delray Beach Historical Society.

“It’s been passed own from generation to generation. People my age that have kids, they now bring their kids there and their grandkids there. It was a small-town restaurant with a small-town feel, and it captured the nostalgia and character of Delray Beach. That’s one of the unique things about it.”

But the longtime restaurant has faced an uncertain future after temporarily closing last year. The new property owner, MDG Banyan Partners, is hoping to transform the adjacent lots, a Dunkin’ Donuts and two parking lots, into a new three-story building with retail and a restaurant on the ground floor and office space on the second and third floors.

In return, MDG would then renovate and reopen Doc’s, which would receive upgrades to its air conditioning, kitchen and outdoor area.

The project, however, failed to receive city approval in October due to concerns the three-story building was too large and out of character for the city’s historic district. Neil Schiller, an attorney representing MDG, said they’ve spent the past six months revising the proposal and are hoping to have it finished within the next few weeks.

A rendering of the proposed Doc's All American and a new three-story building added to the same lot.

A rendering of the proposed Doc’s All American and a new three-story building added to the same lot. (John Szerdi / Courtesy)

Schiller said they’ve reduced the size of the building by 8,000 square feet in response to feedback from the city.

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“We want to get through the process as fast as possible and get work started so we can open Doc’s back up,” Schiller said.

A cornerstone of Delray Beach for more than 70 years, Doc’s was originally built as a Dairy Queen by a local dentist, Dr. Paul Krall.

The store later received the nickname “Doc’s” due to his medical background and the name stuck, according to the Delray Beach Historical Society.

Doc’s All American has generated fond memories from those who grew up in Delray Beach over the years. Edwards said Doc’s was a cherished piece of her childhood in the 70s, adding she would ride her bike to Doc’s after piano lessons at St. Paul’s Church or after playing tennis to grab an ice cream cone.

“It was just a way of life for us kids that grew up here in the 70s and 80s,” Edwards said. “There weren’t a lot of places to go, so riding your bike to Doc’s was a big deal. You’d go there, get a Coke or an ice cream cone and that was a good positive hangout place.

“It has stood the test of time.”

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