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Arthur B. Zimmerman – Founder of Zim’s Restaurants

By in 2008 - Volume 10

Art Zimmerman, my father and mentor and founder and chairman of Zim’s Restaurants passed away on January 22, 2008. Dad was born on February 12, 1920 in Poland and immigrated to the US at the age of 18 months as his parents moved to San Francisco as his father had a relative here. Dad helped support his family at an early age from his newspaper route and produce market job. After graduating from high school Dad was drafted into the Army during World War II and went into the infantry. While eating his K rations in Europe Dad would dream of the day he would come home and eat a thick juicy hamburger and drink a rich milkshake and this is how he got the idea of opening up a specialty restaurant serving only high quality broiled hamburgers with a limited menu including hot apple pie, milkshakes and assortment of other beverages.

When Dad came back from the war he borrowed a few thousand dollars and in 1949 opened up a small U shaped 22 seat counter operation at the corner of Lombard and Steiner in SF and called it Zim’s. The emphasis of his operation was quality and he used whole choice chucks for his hamburgers which were trimmed and double ground and made into hamburger patties daily. Dad used real ice cream for his milkshakes and had a special hot apple pie with cinnamon sauce made for his customers.

This business became very successful and Dad opened a second unit and then additional units and for some 45 years Zim’s Restaurants was the largest restaurant chain in San Francisco with 12 restaurants. Throughout my fathers career he had close to 35 restaurants throughout Northern California.

I learned many things from my father over the years but I will always remember his commitment to quality food, excellent service in a well maintained premises and his pledge that the customer is always right.

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About The Author
Steven Zimmerman, CBI, M&AMI, CBB, FIBBA

Steve is the Founder, Principal Broker and Chief Executive Officer of Restaurant Realty Company. Steve has personally sold/leased over 1,000 restaurant, bar and/or nightclub businesses and many related commercial buildings totaling 2+ million square feet of commercial space, collaborated with over 2,000 clients and completed over 3,000 valuations since 1996.His real estate experience also includes sales, acquisitions, management and ownership of numerous properties throughout California including restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, single family houses, an office building and a multi-use retail building. Steve is also the author of Restaurant Dealmaker – An Insider’s Trade Secrets for Buying a Restaurant, Bar or Club available on Amazon. Prior to starting Restaurant Realty Company Steve had over 20 years of restaurant experience and was President and Chief Executive officer of Zim’s Restaurants, which was one of the largest privately owned restaurant chains in the San Francisco Bay Area. READ FULL BIO | HIRE EXPERT WITNESS - LEARN MORE