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Council's: The Downtown Duffy


There are certain things a father has to teach a son.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Keep your head on a swivel when you are playing defense.

Use the top of your head before you use the bottom.

I was reminded the other day that I had missed one.

My son came back from lunch downtown.

"Good lunch?"

"Great lunch…we found this really cool burger joint called Council's."

I was overwhelmed with disappointment and regret.

It should have been me. I should have been the one to take him to Council’s.

It is one of those things a Manatee County dad should do.

I took him on his first trip to Duffy’s. He was about three.

I had been giving him surfing lessons. I don't know how to surf. He got tossed around by the waves and scratched the bejeezuz out of his chin.

His Mom was going to kill me.

I took him to Duffy’s to stall for time.

It was a big surf day. All the surfers were there...young and old.

The guys learned how he had cut his chin. They praised him..."Hey, you're a real surfer now, dude. Cool."

They inspired a plan.

I taught my son to say..."A man is the sum of his scars".

We repeated it over and over all the way home.

"When your mom asks you about your chin, tell her what we learned today."

I was counting on him being so cute that I would get off the hook.

I sent him in and listened from the door.

Mom… "What happened to your chin?"

My son..."A man is the sum of his scars."

Mom..."Where's your father?"

The rest didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

Council’s is like a man. It is the sum of its scars - and no attempt has been to hide them. Council’s probably hasn’t been painted since it opened in 1926. To paint it would be a travesty.

The décor is “manly”. The "art" on the walls is restricted to football posters of the Manatee Hurricanes and the Gators, with a nod to the Crimson Tide.

The AC ducting is the main design feature. It also delivers killer cool air.

There are a half-dozen pool tables, not quite a dozen bar stools and a few wooden tables. Two ancient cash registers dominate the back bar. Neither of them works. The sign above the registers says, "We will accept any form of payment - as long as it's cash."

Council's originally operated primarily as a gambling establishment.

Florida crackers played cards and pool and the burgers were an afterthought.

The gambling was outlawed in the 50's, and the burgers took center stage.

Council's burgers are exceptional - juicy and delicious. If there is any truth to the theory that an ancient flat top delivers a better burger then the truth of it is here. It has been searing delicious beef for 87 years.

It might be the flat top ... or it might be the man who runs it. Lawton Smith has been “the man” since his dad retired in the 70's. He is as cool as the AC.

Council's is on 12th street across from the courthouse in Bradenton.

Go there for a great burger.

Fathers should bring their sons.

Sean Murphy is the owner of the Beach Bistro and the "eat here" restaurants. Comments can be directed to him at seanmurphybistro@gmail.com


Burgers at Council's are More than a Meal

Published Thursday, July 29, 2010 2:01 am


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