Delray Beach: Board recommends Doc’s be on Register of Historic Places

Doc’s, the beloved eatery that harkens back to the fast food franchises that popped up across the nation after World War II, should be preserved for future generations, the Historic Preservation Board decided on Sept. 1.

In a 5-1 vote, the board recommended that Doc’s All American be listed on the city’s Register of Historic Places.

If the city commission agrees, Doc’s will be placed on the register and protected from demolition.

“We are excited that the Board voted to designate Doc’s to the local register of historic places,” said owner Steve Michael.  “We aim to celebrate Doc’s, its history and place in Delray Beach to bridge the western and eastern parts of the City as a place for everyone to meet and eat.”

Doc’s sits at the corner of Atlantic and Swinton avenues, in the heart of the National Register Old School Square Historic District.

Michael had threatened demolition of Doc’s if the city would not agree to rezone and reclassify two lots immediately to the west (a parking lot and a Dunkin Donut shop) which he wants to redevelop.

Those zoning requests are pending, but the Michael changed course and filed an application with the city seeking historic designation.

Doc’s opened in 1951 as a Dairy Queen franchise and sold frosty cones, shakes and custards. A tall frosty cone cost 6-cents. Atlantic and Swinton were two lane roads. It was owned by a retired dentist named Paul Krall and locals soon began calling it Doc’s. The name stuck and in 1963 Krall officially changed the name to Doc’s Soft Serve.

He sold it in 1980 and the new owners branched out to selling burgers, hot dogs, fries and chili in addition to frosty treats.

When Old School Square Historic District was resurveyed in 2005, property owners of buildings eligible for inclusion as contributing structures were allowed to “opt out.” Doc’s owner, as did many along Atlantic Avenue, did just that.

After the owner died, Doc’s closed in 1990. Development officials and residents clamored for it to reopen, which it did, under new ownership in 1993. The large neon sign revealed a new name: Doc’s All American. 

Little except the size and the colors of the awnings has changed over the years.

Doc’s is a classic example of  Mid-Century roadside architecture and echoes shades of McDonald’s golden arches of the ’50s and ’60s.  

Sadly, Doc’s closed again early this year and it is uncertain when it will reopen, but when it does, it likely will be greeted with the same fanfare as when it reopened in 1993.  But be warned. A tall frosty soft serve costs about $4 today.

— Staff report







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  • Why doesn't Delray just buy the building?  Raise taxes on the snowbirds and pay Michael whatever he wants.  Somebody has to pay for this historic zone development freeze.  Why not sock it to the snowbirds and tourists from Rhode Island?  

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