Dick's Drive-In had its grand opening on Feb. 20, 1954. An ad from that time trumpeted 19-cent hamburgers and "instant service."
Sixty-five 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.
With inflation, their burger cost more then than now. The 19-cent burger would be $1.77 in today’s dollars. It costs $1.60.
Their 21-cent malt would be $1.96 in today’s dollars. A milkshake now costs $2.75.
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Their 11-cent fries would be $1.03 in today’s dollars. It costs $1.90.
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.
Earlier this 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 last year.
As Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement recently 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.