Dick's Drive-In opened on Jan. 28, 1954, and celebrated with a grand opening a few weeks later, on Feb. 20. An ad from that time trumpeted 19-cent hamburgers and "instant service."

Share story

Sixty-six years ago today, a new burger joint celebrated its grand opening on what is now Northeast 45th Street in Wallingford and changed the Seattle food landscape forever.

Dick’s Drive-In advertised itself as “Seattle’s most unique and fascinating self-service drive-in,” offering burgers, malts and fries at “unbelievable prices.”

Not much has changed. Well, except those prices.

Accounting for inflation, their burger cost more then than now. The 19-cent burger would be $1.77 in today’s dollars. In 2019, it cost between $1.50 and $1.70, depending on which Dick’s location you’re at.

Their 21-cent malt would be $1.96 in today’s dollars. A milkshake now costs $2.75 to $2.95, again depending on location.

Their 11-cent fries would be $1.03 in today’s dollars. Today, the price ranges from $2.00 to $2.15.

To celebrate its anniversary, Dick’s will sell burgers for their original price of 19 cents (yes, 19 of today’s cents, no inflation conversion necessary).

Dick’s opened on Jan. 28, 1954, and had its grand opening a few weeks later, on Feb. 20. Today, the area has six more: Capitol Hill (opened in 1955), Holman Road (1960), Lake City (1963), Queen Anne (1974), Edmonds (2011) and Kent (2018). (A Bellevue location opened in 1965 and is the only one that eventually closed.)

The chain is so woven into our area’s history that it’s been the backdrop for music videos by Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and the city seemed to enter a mourning period on social media when founder Dick Spady died in 2016.

Last year, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates was seen waiting in line for a burger fix just like any other Seattleite.

Dick’s is consistently voted one of Seattle’s best burger eateries — including by Seattle Times readers in 2018.

As Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement once wrote, “Is the burger technically ‘great’? No, it is not … But is it actually PERFECT, for hundreds of high-school lunches or a just-walking-by-anytime snack or a late-night life-saver? Yes, it is.”

Seattle Times staff reporter Erik Lacitis contributed to this story.