In 1956, a struggling young lawyer named Clifford Perlman and his brother Stuart, a door-to-door salesman, scraped together $12,000 to buy a humble six-year-old restaurant called Lum's in Miami Beach. And they were surprised by how well it did while other local eateries struggled. As Clifford later explained to Fortune magazine, he figured out that the difference was not the menu, but their restaurant's clear-glass doors, which seemed more inviting to passers-by than the solid ones the competition had. Pretty soon, they bought a second eatery and put in glass doors, and daily revenues increased there from $20 to $150 a day. By the time they ditched the weiner trade for a Vegas casino and sold their chain to KFC owner John Y. Brown for $4 million in 1971, nearly 400 franchises served the hot dogs steamed in beer that were the Lum's trademark. According to newspaper reports the company eventually was passed into the hands of a German company that went bankrupt in the early 1980s, and the once-prosperous chain dwindled down to a single restaurant in Davie, Fla., which closed in 2009. A thief later made off with the 400-pound wooden Lum's sign, so don't be surprised to see it turn up eventually on eBay [source: Sun-Sentinel].
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