Hamburger Mary’s to bring Vegas feel and feathers to Daytona

By : Gina Avile
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Daytona – The spark is coming back to downtown Daytona, but it isn’t fireworks lighting up this quaint beachfront town. It’s the brand new location of Hamburger Mary’s, the popular franchised burger joint known for hosting killer drag shows. Co-owner of the new location Gary Motes says there will be feathers – lots of feathers – and a Vegas-style cabaret.

With 38 years of restaurant experience under his belt and a love for drag, Motes – partnered with his brother and sister – opened Hamburger Mary’s Jacksonville three years. With the success of the Jax location, the family decided it was time to expand.

“We saw the space in Daytona and fell in love with it for our second Hamburger Mary’s,” says Motes. “It’s 10,000 square feet, more than three times the size of our Jacksonville location. In Jacksonville I wanted to do a show where I came riding in on a white horse, but the space was too small. We can do that now.”

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Motes says he’s done his homework, and concluded the beach town needs something edgy to bring it back to what is once was.

“Right now downtown Daytona is a redevelopment area,” Motes says. “A lot of gay attractions have closed down recently, and we want to make this place a destination again.”

Motes and his team aren’t the only ones excited for the grand opening on Aug. 14. The Daytona Chamber of Commerce is ready for the business Hamburger Mary’s will bring to town.

“Daytona always loves new business, and obviously this is the kind of business that can blossom right now,” says Daytona Chamber of Commerce president Nancy Keefer. “They’ve clearly done their market research, and we’re excited to have them here.”

Motes says some Jacksonville residents were hesitant to embrace Hamburger Mary’s, and that might be the same in Daytona, but he says they’ll be hooked once they see their first drag show.

“We’re bringing the best of the best to this location,” said Motes. “When we came to Jacksonville, people didn’t know what to think. We turned that all around. 97 percent of our customers there are straight; they come just because our shows are top notch. We set high standards for ourselves.”

Motes is expecting more of a gay crowd in Daytona, but says he will never fail to surprise any of his new customers. He’s planning on hosting ‘Gary Productions,” shows he directs that are currently a big hit with the Jacksonville crowd.

“Every Hamburger Mary’s is different, so you’ll never know what you’ll get,” Motes says. “This is my dream, to run multiple Hamburger Mary’s and share my love for this entertainment with the community. Maybe next time you see me, I’ll be up on a white horse.”

Hamburger Mary’s Daytona will take over the former location of Level One Cafe at 180 N Beach Street in downtown Daytona.

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