Quaker Steak and Lube
The Authentic Original Bikers’ Night
20 Years Anniversary
By: Florida Night Train©
It all started in 1974 when co-owners George “Jig” Warren III and Gary “Moe” Meszaros bought a vacant automobile service station and converted it into a restaurant and bar named appropriately, “The Quaker Steak and Lube”. It served a simple menu and invited guests to come in and cook their own steak. How bout that?! Two years later, the menu was expanded to include the popular Buffalo-style chicken wing prepared with the choice of unique homemade sauces. The Lube® won its first major award in 1988—Best Wings USA at the National Chicken-Out competition in Cleveland, OH. Since then, Jig and Moe passed the motorsports-themed concept onto JDK Management, which is the local franchise of the Clearwater Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant.
As I sat there with a drink, chatting with Bill Church, who brought the franchise to Florida in 2003, we reminisced about the real, the true, the original and authentic bike nights. How it started back in the day—that is, before everyone and their uncle started their own bike nights. When the only thing that mattered was camaraderie, motorcycles, affordable food, and concerts. The original bike nights would bring in hundreds and sometimes thousands of bikes. Back in October 2003, when Bill opened QSL located at 10400 49th St N, Clearwater, FL 33762, he started bike nights. First week 50 bikes showed, second week 100 bikes showed, and weeks after it was 200+ each week. I remember in mid-year ~2005ish seeing literally thousands of bikes—all shapes, colors, and years! There were awards for best bike, entertaining games, as well as good and not so good bands. People had an absolute blast, I assure you.
Clearwater, Florida, a coastal haven bathed in sunshine and dotted with palm trees, may not be the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of the vibrant biker culture. However, tucked away in this picturesque corner of the Sunshine State, there it is; the legendary gathering that has been drawing motorcycle enthusiasts from near and far for decades – the Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night. With its rich history and unique charm, this weekly event has become an integral part of Clearwater’s culture, celebrating the freedom of the open road and the spirit of camaraderie that defines the biker community. A rendezvous of sorts for charity events and poker-runs supporting those.
Many have tried to copy and take from the idea but they will never truly be able to replicate the authentic spirit of the QSL bike night. Ever. The event started as a small meet-up for motorcycle enthusiasts to showcase their prized possessions. Over time it grew in popularity, thanks to word-of-mouth and the unique, uncomplicated atmosphere that Quaker Steak and Lube provided. With its vibrant décor, featuring classic cars and motorcycles suspended from the ceiling, the restaurant itself became a testament to the love of all things motorized.
Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night still takes place every Wednesday evening, transforming the restaurant’s parking lot into a two-wheeled wonderland. From custom choppers to vintage Harley-Davidsons and speed bikes, the parking lot becomes a symphony of engine roars and chrome gleams. It’s a sight to behold, a rolling exhibition of craftsmanship and a passion for the open road.
While motorcycles are undoubtedly the stars of the show, the event is much more than just a display of mechanical prowess. It’s a social gathering where bikers from all walks of life come together to share stories, swap tips, and forge lasting friendships. The sense of camaraderie and belonging is palpable, and it’s this sense of community that has kept Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night alive and thriving for over four decades. You can’t copy that.
No biker night would be complete without good food and live music. Quaker Steak and Lube keeps delivering on both fronts. Attendees can indulge in the restaurant’s signature wings, a diverse menu of American classics, and, of course, an ice-cold beer. The live bands that perform on the outdoor stage keep the energy high, providing the perfect soundtrack to an evening of celebration and revelry.
Over the years, the event has also featured various competitions and contests, from bike shows to tattoo contests, adding an extra layer of excitement and entertainment for attendees. It’s this commitment to providing a full-fledged experience that has helped Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night maintain its status as a must-visit event on the Florida biker calendar. You just can’t copy that.
As a testament to resilience, Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night has weathered its fair share of challenges over the years. Economic downturns, changes in ownership, and even the occasional hurricane threat or the recent pandemic have all posed obstacles. However, the event’s enduring spirit and the unwavering support of the local biker community have kept it going strong. Bill is quick to point out Fran Haasch and Rhett Jones (her husband) of The Fran Haasch Law Group are an integral part, and pillars of the community’s vibrant active presence. I agree! Without Rhett and Fran and their team, this community would have never thrived as it has. You can’t copy or substitute that either.
In recent years, the event has also adapted to meet the evolving needs and preferences of bikers. Embracing technology and social media, Quaker Steak and Lube has leveraged online platforms to promote the event and connect with a broader audience. This digital presence has not only helped maintain interest but has also fostered a sense of belonging among bikers who may not always be able to attend in person.
Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night is more than just a weekly gathering; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of the biker community and a celebration of freedom, friendship, and a shared love of motorcycles. Its rich history, dating back to the 1980s, underscores its obvious importance as a cultural touchstone in Clearwater, Florida, and a symbol of the enduring power of the open road.
As we look to the future, one thing is certain: Quaker Steak and Lube’s Biker Night will continue to rev its engines and roll on, carrying the legacy of decades of riders who have come together to celebrate the thrill of the ride and the bond that unites them. It’s a tradition worth preserving and an example of the steadfast spirit of bikers everywhere. So, whether you’re a seasoned rider or just looking to soak in the atmosphere, make sure to put this iconic event on your list.
Next major event? QSL’s 20th Anniversary Party on Sunday October 8, 2023, starting at noon with a free kill the keg, 1 p.m. FREE BBQ Pork Sandwich, Blu opening and Greg Billings and Bobby Friss live on stage at 3 p.m., vendors (space available), bike show emceed by none other than veteran bike builder and judge Reverend Jim of Racing for Orphans. The day will be packed with action. As Bill described the day, his body language portrayed a child-like excitement. I’ll be there!