Burger Beast Museum: Fast-Food Memorabilia "Brings a Tear" to Visitors' Eyes

Miami Burger Beast Sef Gonzalez's obsession with food memorabilia began when a friend gave him an old restaurant sign.

Years later, his collection has thousands of items. His comfort-food memorabilia has outgrown its current home, so he decided to share his stash with the world by opening the Burger Beast Museum.

The 1,200-square-foot museum is scheduled to open this year at Magic City Casino. Museums cost money, so it's no secret that most of them rely on donations and grants to stay alive. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), for instance, lists friends and patrons who donated at least $1,000 on its website. 

Gonzalez is seeking funding for his museum through Indiegogo. The campaign, which is scheduled to go live today, has a $50,000 goal. Gonzalez says he'd rather go to the public for the funds needed to complete the buildout of the space than enlist the help of corporate sponsors. "Burger Beast has always tried to produce what's best for the community without the input of any giant corporate entity trying to redirect the focus of what's most important: keeping it real." The blogger and museum curator will use all contributions toward construction of the space, which will feature about 5,000 items.

Gonzalez has set up several contribution levels, each with its own perk.

A modest $10 donation will get you a ticket to the museum when it opens. A $50 donation includes two tickets and a T-shirt, and a $500 contribution includes a pair of tickets to each of Burger Beast's events in 2016, a shirt, and an invitation for two to the grand opening of the museum. High rollers who can afford $2,500 will receive a food tour for four, with Gonzalez personally escorting your group to three of his favorite restaurants, complete with kitchen tours and chef meet-and-greets. 

Before the museum opens, Gonzalez gave New Times a tour of the current home of his collection. The burger expert says the museum was a natural extension of his fascination with burgers and comfort food. "All my life I've collected something... First comics, then G.I. Joe and Star Wars." When he started his Burger Beast blog in 2008, he decided that writing about the history of the American fast-food phenomenon was just as interesting as covering the latest restaurant to open. The history of these chains, many of them now defunct, manifested into his current collection of restaurant and food items. "No one was telling the story of the restaurant that made [burgers] popular." 

Gonzalez says the best thing about sharing his collection — which includes everything from promotional glasses to employee uniforms and giant outdoor figures — is seeing people's reactions when they remember items. "It brings a tear to their eyes. It's cool to hear their stories."
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss