If you grew up in Miami, chances are you've eaten at Shorty's Bar-B-Q. Edward Louis "Shorty" Allen, who built the restaurant from a barbecue stand to a multilocation chain, died April 21 at the age of 104.
The restaurant serves standard barbecue fare such as ribs, brisket, coleslaw, and corn. New Times hails it one of "Miami's top ten barbecue restaurants."
Although he built his empire in Miami, Allen was originally from Georgia, moving to South Florida in the 1940s. He opened the first Shorty's in 1951 and operated it until 1980, when he sold it. His nickname was earned from his diminutive stature; he apparently stood five-foot-five.
When the original Shorty's, at 9200 S. Dixie Hwy., burned down in a fire in 1972, it was rebuilt on the same spot by the new owners. The restaurant chain now spans three counties and consists of five locations.
Norma Sanchez, who works with Shorty's catering division, says Shorty's is more than a local landmark. "I've been working with the company for seven years, and I've come to realize that it is more than a historical restaurant. It's a family tradition. We just catered a 1939 high school reunion the other day, and you should have heard the stories. These old-timers were talking about how they used to skip school to go eat at Shorty's. People go there with their parents, when they're just kids in elementary school; then they grow up and take their kids."
The pioneer is also responsible for another renowned local barbecue spot. Allen owned an eatery on 28001 S. Dixie Hwy., which he also called Shorty's. South Miami-Dade residents flock to the Homestead restaurant, known as Shiver's, named for Virgil Shiver, who bought the joint from Allen in 1960.
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Allen moved to Stuart in 2000 and lived his golden years there. He passed away in hospice care. He still maintained homes in Miami and Marathon. His first marriage, to Dorothy Irene Allen, lasted 50 years. Once widowed, he met and married Sharon Allen, who survives him.
A private service was held Wednesday in Miami. Memorial donations to Treasure Coast Hospice (1201 SE Indian St., Stuart, FL 34997) have been requested by the family.
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