By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: D-Luxe Burger

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

According to the back story for Disney Springs conceived by Imagineers, a Florida cattle rancher named Martin Sinclair and his wife Clara discovered the water source in 1850 and settled there. Martin became “The Cattle King of the Springs”.

(c) Disney

The story of the Disney Springs craft burger restaurant D-Luxe Burger is recounted by artifacts decorating the interior of the restaurant, which supposedly served as the original ranch house for Sinclair’s Glowing Oak Ranch in Springs, Florida. On the outside is the covered front porch where the Sinclair family could easily see the springs just a few short steps from their door.

Florida has the longest history of cattle ranching of any state in the United States so this back story honors that legacy.

In a display case is an undated letter from Martin to his wife Clara:

“My Dearest Clara. After weeks spent exploring the wilds of Florida, I have found us a home! The first night I arrived here after a particularly hard rain, the light from my campfire was reflected in the droplets of water clinging to the leaves of the oak tree overhead.

”The leaves appeared to be dancing and the sight of it inspired me to name the place ‘Glowing Oak’. In a fortnight I will return to you in South Carolina and cannot wait to start our living here in this happy place. Your loving husband, Martin. P.S. My crude hand cannot do justice to the beauty of this place but I’ve included a small drawing.”

On the wall is a map of the cattle ranches in the state of Florida in 1865 including several fictitious Central Florida ones created by Imagineering like Reedy Creek Ranch, Buena Vista Ranch, Kissimmee River Ranch, Turkey Creek Ranch and, of course, Glowing Oak Ranch.

A posted vintage advertisement for “Ranch Hands Needed for the Glowing Oak Ranch” stated: “To tend the lands. Square meals and fair deals for all. Must be able to rope and ride. Opportunities for Advancement.”

It ended with the slogan “There’s a seat for everyone at our table!” which later became the slogan for the family restaurant. In the ranch house, the Sinclairs cooked meals for the ever growing number of ranch hands. The reputation for outstanding food sometimes resulted in them opening the house to hungry tourists and locals as well.

Sinclair shifted from just being a dealer in beef cattle after he attended the St. Louis World’s Fair. In a display is a postcard dated from June 11, 1904 to Clara Sinclair: “My Dearest Clara, Greetings to you from the World’s Fair! I am finding such wonderful things here. Among my most favorite discoveries is a kind of ground beef sandwich they call a ‘hamburger’. I dare say, the recipe seems quite easy to discern, so I promise to fashion one for you upon my return. Your loving husband, Martin.”

That inspiration resulted in the Glowing Oak Ranch evolving into a family restaurant. It held its first ever “Burger Day” on February 26, 1905 from noon to five pm. “It’s no minced steak. It’s hamburgers! Hit of the World’s Fair. It’s time for fun. Join us now for a burger on a bun…with plenty of plates and, chairs and outdoor space!” Glowing Oak Ranch became Glowing Oak Restaurant on July 24, 1921. The restaurant provided the refreshments for the Springs Grand Centennial Expo in 1950.

Officially, the “current owner, Martin Sinclair VI” re-branded the Glowing Oak Restaruant to D-Luxe Burger on May 15, 2016. While the ranch itself has been sold off and re-developed over the years, the oak tree that inspired the original still stands outside the front door to the restaurant.

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Thanks, Jim! I’m a big fan of D-Luxe Burger. In our book, we note that “D-Luxe Burger serves up the best quick service hamburgers on property.”

Come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
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