Throwback Thursday: Herbie K’s Diner in Cocoa Beach Was a Nostalgic 1950’s Diner

By  //  July 25, 2013

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ABOVE VIDEO: Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit song “Great Balls of Fire” was among the iconic tunes from the 1950s that could be heard at Herbie K’s Diner in Cocoa Beach.

Image courtesy of Ruby Daniel
Image courtesy of Ruby Daniel

From 1987 through the ’90s, Herbie K’s was a nostalgic 50’s diner that featured the styles, foods and music of the “Golden Age of America.”

From hot-rod muscle cars and hula hoops, Herbie K’s a step into Herbie K’s was comparable to a step into a time portal and drop a coin into your table jukebox.

Ruby Daniel, a former waitress at Herbie K’s recalls her days working in the popular establishment that was located right off of A1A  in front of the former Howard Johnson’s in Cocoa Beach.

herbie-k-300“I remember the first time we ate at Herbie K’s, sitting in the booth thumbing through the songs on the jukebox (they had those table top ones, called satellites) bopping to the music. The server sat down next to my husband shoved him over on the booth seat and took our order. The food was great but it was the atmosphere that sucked you in. I remember as I bopped around waiting for our food that my husband said “I bet you would love to work here” and a year later I did just that.

And it was a great place to work, after all who wouldn’t want to play dress up (poodle skirts & saddle shoes, tons of funny buttons), chew gum, pop bubbles, sing (weather you really could or not), dance in the isles and call perfect strangers Doll and Daddo! Although we were slammed, with sometimes a wait out the door, the time would fly by. Through the years we worked with some very memorable characters. We all had great nicknames, mine was Stella. The Little Suzy, Peggy Sue, Babbs, Richie, Shirley, Dimples, Elvis, Fast Eddie, Mac the Knife and others will long be etched in my memory.

Of course, to work there you had to learn a whole different language, the typical phrases of the era such as “Hey Daddo what’s shakin?”, to “See you later alligator,” “After while crocodile”, “Bye-bye butterfly” and on they go.

Image Courtesy of Ruby Daniel
Image Courtesy of Ruby Daniel

In addition to that, each item on the menu had nicknames such as Draft beer was “a pearl pop with foam on top” and a bacon cheeseburger was “one blown up with Jack Benny.”

They really tried to be as authentic as possible.

The true fun was what Herbie K’s did and that was simply put smiles on faces, young and old. Those who lived it got to relive it for a short time and those born after that era, got a Blast from the Past.

Real milkshakes, hula hoops, timeless music and wonderful memories. You always left full and happy!

I still run into those I used to work with, as we struggle to remember our nicknames, it’s always the same “big smiles and fun memories” of the place.

And when I run across one of the many former patrons of both Herbie K’s Diner and Bumpers (the dance bar) they always say the same thing “boy we miss that place” and “wish someone would build another one” but the simple truth is something that special could never be duplicated.”

Image courtesy of Ruby Daniel