Goody Goody™ is an iconic Tampa restaurant that opened in 1925 and closed in 2005. It was the first drive-in restaurant east of the Mississippi. 1905 Family Of Restaurants co-owner Richard Gonzmart frequently used to buy a sack of burgers for his family on Saturdays. Richard also had been interested in the “better burger” concept long before it became trendy. He tried to buy the Goody Goody™ brand rights off and on for 10 years and finally closed the deal in 2014.
Goody Goody™ was common slang to express delight in the U.S. as early as the 1700s. There is no documentation about why the original owner picked that name, other than the obvious connection to delight.
Part of it is the burgers “POX,” which stands for pickles, onions and secret sauce. Originally a tomato-based barbeque sauce, it’s cooked for hours. The result is a messy, sloppy, delicious burger.
Part of it’s the pies, especially the butterscotch. Ours is not the exact recipe as the Goody Goody™ butterscotch recipe (actually, there were several) because tastes change and our hundreds of tasting team audiences prior to reopening prefer this pie.
And part of it has to do with the memories created there over generations. As at the Columbia, people met there, got engaged and celebrated births and other significant life events. They went there before movies and after church and high school football games.
Seems like it. Goody Goody™ had 8,000 Facebook page likes, at opening compared to Ulele’s 3,000 when that very successful restaurant opened in 2014. That number hit 14,000 two years later. Early on, we were flooded with old-timers reliving their past, but we couldn’t be successful just with them, so our menu and prices are aimed at all age groups.
The media traditionally loved Goody Goody™. Here are some stories from the archives (newer comments following the FAQs).
“Lawyers sit next to hard-luck travelers. Three-piece suits press next to skid row clothing. No matter what the profession – or the attire – you can find it at the Goody Goody Drive-In Restaurant.”
The Tampa Tribune, June 13, 1979
“Used to be on Friday and Saturday nights you couldn’t get near the place. Cars were backed up a block and a half away waiting for a parking space.”
William Mote The Tampa Tribune, Sept. 5, 1980
“Best Hamburgers Ever Made” The Tampa Tribune, Jan. 4, 1981
“It’s funny how, through all those years and changes, the Goody Goody has remained the same.”
The Tampa Tribune The Tampa Tribune, March 28, 2004
The original was at 1603 Grand Central Ave., with a move relatively quickly to 1629 Grand Central, just a few lots away, because of better parking. A second location opened at 5201 N. Florida. Finally, the business consolidated and lasted at 1119 N. Florida.
Yes. Bringing back the iconic Goody Goody™ sign was an important element in returning the Tampa restaurant to its former glory.
To former customers like Richard Gonzmart, the sign was as much a part of the restaurant experience as the food and service.
Purchasing the rights to Goody Goody™ included the former Florida Avenue restaurant’s sign, visible in yellowing newspaper clips from decades before. It had been stored in a weed-filled lot.
To restore it, Gonzmart hired Thomas Sign & Awning of Clearwater, which had done work for the Columbia Restaurant Group.
During renovation, sign workers discovered rust and several layers of other signs beneath the exterior. The interior had to be re-built, as did the electrical system that powered the interior lights as well as the neon outline.
The new version was installed with updated energy efficient LED lighting that will use less electricity.
The sign was so important to the business that a review board granted variances to bring the historic sign back to life.
The Goody Goody™ sign’s star quality was verified in 2016 when it was transported to Hyde Park Village for installation. Motorists on the Howard Frankland Bridge sped ahead of the Thomas truck so they could pull over and take photos as the Goody Goody™ icon passed.
Yes, Goody Goody™ marketing and ads were clever, creative and quite innovative especially for their time.
Carl Stayer, a son of second owner William Stayer, was summoned home to Goody Goody™ after the drowning death of his brother Bob in 1944.
“When I joined Dad in 1945, we both agreed that word-of-mouth advertising was the best for a good restaurant, but by 1953 a good many new restaurants were started …” (including an upstart chain called McDonald’s), he wrote in his memoirs for his family.
Goody Goody™ was losing customers and revenue to the new restaurants. Something had to be done.
Carl began a weekly ad campaign in The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times using trivia, humor and reverse pitches as anchors.
“I read history a great deal and when they wrote of the eating habits of the Romans or the people of Zanzibar, I had an ad for that week,” Stayer wrote. “When little things happened in the business that I thought were worth a headline, I had an ad.”
Business increased by 15 percent the first year and his ad efforts won awards and were noted in The New York Times and United Press International.
You can see some samples hanging in the restaurant and on our Facebook page.
There are seven Columbia Restaurants and Cafes in Florida, two Ulele Restaurants, Café Con Leche Ybor City at Tampa International Airport, Cha Cha Coconuts tropical bar and grill in Sarasota and Casa Santo Stefano restaurant in Ybor City.
No, it’s totally a family-owned and operated business, except for partnerships at the airport. The original restaurant in Ybor City opened in 1905 and is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Richard and Casey Gonzmart are the fourth-generation co-owners of the restaurant group. Richard’s daughter Andrea Gonzmart Williams and Casey’s son Casey, Jr. are the fifth generation members working in the restaurant group.
Goody Goody™ is all about Tampa, which is why we use Cuban bread baked in Ybor City by century-old La Segunda Central Bakery for our made-from-scratch OMG! French Toast on the all-day breakfast and weekend brunch menus. Battered, grilled and topped with powdered sugar, we serve it with warm, house-made cracker maple syrup.
No, because we’re a true diner. But we do have a system that can shorten your wait. To reduce standing time inside the restaurant, guests can go to GoodyGoodyBurgers.com to put their names on the wait list or call the restaurant to get in line before they arrive. The site will then text their phone when it’s time to be seated.
To get a glimpse of what Goody Goody™ looked like a few years before it closed, watch the 2004 movie “The Punisher” starring actors Thomas Jane and John Travolta. Diner scenes for the action movie were filmed inside the restaurant’s North Florida Avenue location.
The film’s plot follows an undercover FBI agent who becomes a vigilante assassin set upon avenging the deaths of his family by a corrupt businessman. The film’s producers and director chose Goody Goody™ for its gritty, classic diner look, featuring the interior with very few alterations to the decor.
Yes, we have red, white and sparkling wines, as well as beer by Coppertail Brewing Co. and Yuengling Lager, America’s oldest brewery, continually family-owned and operated since 1829 and brewed in Tampa.
Yes, our goal with both the décor and the menu was to offer a nod to the past with an eye to the future. Take a look at the piece of the original tile framed in the bathroom hallway. We paid homage to that style and color scheme. We even kept an early version of the hand-drawn logo.
A different guitar from Richard Gonzmart’s private collection will be displayed monthly in the restaurant.
His love of guitars started during his adolescence when he played in a rock ’n’ roll band and it received another push when he was living in Spain as a 20-year-old and taking flamenco guitar classes.
In 1979, he opened the Café nightclub at the Ybor Columbia booking pianist Dick Rivers and occasionally sitting in himself.
Gonzmart has collected guitars all of his life and keeps many of his favorites in his office, including a double-neck electric guitar autographed by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, several Fender Telecasters autographed by Prince, a six-string acoustic signed by all the members of the Beach Boys and a Gibson Les Paul signed by Les Paul himself.
Through a custom playlist of hits through many decades, featuring music from Carl Perkins to The Eagles to Rob Thomas and beyond, Goody Goody™ taps musical memories as part of our experience marketing. And we’ll increase the frequency of songs by the featured artist that month, as represented by the guitar display.
Richard Gonzmart was honored by an arts organization and the “Love” painting by the late local artist Jon Lee had been awarded a prize by Hyde Park Village. He bought it on the spot. Lee later donated another one.
At the time they were signed, Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan were the leading U.S. male and female distance runners. A veteran marathoner and triathlete himself, Richard collected the signatures at an event.
Both feature a shot of the 1119 N. Florida location from the 1940s or so. There’s also a shot of the “Goody Goody Girls,” the carhops who took over when men were at war, and a vintage dining room shot complete with fedoras.