City leaders joined Dick’s Drive-In owners, employees and customers, and Cool Bird, the Thunderbirds’ mascot, for an official groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the new restaurant off Pacific Highway South on Kent’s West Hill. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

City leaders joined Dick’s Drive-In owners, employees and customers, and Cool Bird, the Thunderbirds’ mascot, for an official groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the new restaurant off Pacific Highway South on Kent’s West Hill. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Ground breaks for new Dick’s Drive-In in Kent

Popular family-owned burger joint expected to open in October on West Hill

The digging begins for the new Dick’s Drive-In on Kent’s West Hill.

Members of the Spady family – owners of the popular, small fast-food restaurant chain – joined employees, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and project leaders in an official groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the new burger spot to be built along the east side of Highway 99, at 24220 Pacific Highway S., in the Midway Shopping Center, just south of the Lowe’s store.

“It’s a great day for our company,” said Jim Spady, president of Dick’s Drive-In and son of Dick Spady, the company’s co-founder and namesake. “We look forward to bringing great food and great first-time jobs to the communities of South King County with the opening of this new location in the fall.”

Spady said the new restaurant – the company’s seventh and the first one south of Seattle – is scheduled to open in mid- or late October and employ about 50 people.

Total project costs for the 3,000-square-foot restaurant, the chain’s largest, is “several millions of dollars,” Spady said, and will stand on 2 of the 6 vacant acres of land the company bought for $3 million.

The expansion is the first for the company since the Edmonds location opened in October 2011. Dick’s has five Seattle locations, including the original site that opened in 1954 in the Wallingford neighborhood, just west of the University of Washington.

The Kent spot will fashion the style of the Seattle outdoor drive-ins, according to the company, maintaining the original restaurant’s iconic 1950s look and architecture.

“We’re so excited to begin construction,” said Jasmine Donovan, executive vice president of Dick’s Drive-In and granddaughter of Dick Spady. “For our fans in South King County, we know it’s been a long wait and we thank you for your patience. We want to thank everyone at the city of Kent for all of their hard work in helping us reach this milestone.”

The addition of Dick’s represents a victory for Kent’s West Hill community as it continues to grow commercially. City staff and Dick’s owners examined other sites along the Pac Highway corridor before discovering the right spot.

“Dick’s Drive-in has been a Seattle icon since the 1950s. We are beyond excited that the Dick’s family has chosen Kent as its next location, and we are honored to be a part of today’s event,” Ralph said. “I am sure the entire Kent community joins me in welcoming Dick’s to Kent’s West Hill. … We wish you many years of success.”

The new location is easily accessible, sitting just west of Interstate 5 and along a business-filled highway with Highline College nearby. It’s also 5 miles south of Sea-Tac Airport, and a half-mile south of the Kent-Des Moines Road (aka SR 516) intersection.

Dick’s let its fans decide where to place the company’s newest restaurant. The new site selection process included an online customer poll that attracted more than 170,000 votes, 100,000 of which came in the first 24 hours. On March 27, 2017, the company announced on Facebook Live that the south region had won with 60 percent of the vote.

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