Many in Ballard will remember the corner of 65th and 15th as the home of Zesto drive-in restaurant, where even the tartar sauce was raved about by fans.

The site of the former eatery was nothing but a charred husk of a boarded-up Mexican restaurant Saturday, following an early morning fire.

Multiple engines responded to the building at 6416 15th Ave. NW in Ballard at 3:31 a.m., following a report of a fire in the building.

According to the public information office of the Seattle Fire Department, crews extinguished the fire in about 50 minutes. The fire’s cause remains under investigation. No injuries were reported.

On Saturday afternoon, the air smelled not of the delectable burgers or the soft serve cones Zesto was known for, but charred wood. A placard pasted on a burned out wall warned of dangerous entry. The windows were broken out, the ceiling burned and collapsed.

Former Seattle Times reporter Peyton Whitely reported on the closing of Zesto in 2001, big news at the time. He recounted: “The Ballard Zesto story began when (Charlie) Pattok’s father left Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his family and moved to Tacoma, then learned about a national franchise called Zesto that had invented the first continuous-feed ice-cream dispenser. In 1952, he moved to a choice location, across the street from Ballard High.”


The Vanishing Seattle Facebook page is replete with memories of the beloved burger and fish house that opened in 1948. With its neon sign of a soft serve cone and even a 1957 Chevy Bel Air mounted on top, the restaurant was a neighborhood destination. Students at Ballard High School, across the street, made Zesto their hangout for decades.

The restaurant was replaced first by a barbecue place and then El Camion, a Mexican restaurant.

The property has been rezoned and will be home to a six-story, 74 unit mixed-use building.