By Jack Stubbs
Dick’s Drive-In, a company that opened its first location in Wallingford more than 60 years ago, is set to press forward with the imminent construction of newest location in Kent, Washington.
On Tuesday, April 3rd, members of the Spady family, Dick’s Drive-Ins employees, the Mayor of the City of Kent and five memory fan winners will break ground on the new Dick’s Drive-In’s location in Kent at 24220 Pacific Highway South in the Midway shopping center.
The imminent groundbreaking comes after a land sale that posted late last week on Friday, March 30th. The sale was for a 4-parcel property—that totals just over 8 acres—that sold for $3 million, according to public records filed with King County. The property is located directly south of the Lowes at 240th and Pacific Highway South in Kent. The seller was Pacific Service Co. Inc., an entity related to the Forman family, who operated a drive-in movie theater on the site until the 1990s.
Dick’s Drive-In, founded in 1954, was represented in the transaction by Jeff Kraft and Cramer Foster from Kidder Mathews’ Tacoma office.
The land sale came just over a year after Dick’s announced the results of an online poll that allowed Dick’s customers and client base to decide where the newest location would open. The new site selection process included an online customer poll that resulted in over 170,000 votes, 100,000 of which came in the first 24 hours of the poll being released, according to a statement released by Dick’s. On March 27th, 2017, the company announced on Facebook Live that the south region had won with 60 percent of the vote; and Dick’s announced its decision to purchase the property in Kent in September 2017.
The sale of the property—and the impending groundbreaking slated for Tuesday, April 3rd—marks the latest chapter in a longer process, according to Jasmine Donovan, executive vice president of Dick’s Drive-In and granddaughter of the co-founder and namesake Dick Spady. “There were various details that we had to work out before we could finalize the sale. We got so much help from the city of Kent to help make that happen and we appreciate all the work they did to help us get our permits in a timely manner. We’re very excited to break ground and begin building,” Donovann said.
The new location will be Dick’s Drive-In’s first in South King County and the seventh location in the greater Puget Sound region. The iconic chain also operates in Edmonds, Washington, as well as in several Seattle neighborhoods including Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne and Lake City.
The roughly 8-acre property, located at 24220 Pacific Highway South, is approximately four miles to the west of downtown Kent and about two miles south of Des Moines. The property is also about one miles from access to the intersection of Washington State Route 509 and I-5. Additionally, the property is roughly across from Highline College.
According to Donovan, the process of choosing the new location was heavily influenced by input from the company’s customer and client base gathered through the poll in March 2017. “The poll told us which direction we were going to look, [and] we knew we were going south because that’s where our customers told us to go,” she said. And before Kent was chosen, there was a number of other cities in the running. “We were invited by a number of cities in [south King County] to see some of the sites that they thought would be good for us. The winning city came down to the city that was home to the best site. Kent won because they had the best location for us to build,” Donovan added.
Currently, Dick’s plans to use approximately two acres of the roughly 8-acre property and sell the remaining land. “Our preference is to sell [the land] and let someone else develop it. Developing is not our expertise. If we have to, we’ll develop it ourselves, but ideally we will sell it,” Donovan said.
The company owns almost all of its own land with the exception of the Broadway location in Capitol Hill, which Dick’s has leased from the same landlord since the opening of that location. Dick’s will continue to work with Kidder Mathews on the sale of the Kent property moving forward.
The groundbreaking of the Kent location marks the latest chapter for the company, one that Donovan hopes will bode well for continued expansion throughout South King County. “We’re so excited to open our first restaurant in the South Sound and we’re excited to serve the students of Highline College right there, as well as all of these communities in South King County,” she said.
Concerning the demographic appeal of the Kent area, the hope is that the new location will appeal to the company’s existing customer base throughout the Seattle area, according to Donovan. “We don’t really have a target demographic, so we get the opportunity to serve everyone in this region. It’s hard to get to Seattle these days due to traffic and geographic, so we want to be able to serve our product in the communities further south [as well].”
Looking forward, Kraft of Kidder Mathews thinks that the new Kent location—and the company’s plans for expansion further south—correspond with a longstanding, proven plan for success. “It’s no surprise that they’ve done so well in this market and built such an iconic brand. They’ve got a very proven process and model in place that they’ve developed over the last 60-plus years,” Kraft said. “They rely heavily on what the public, and their customers, to decide what they want. They city of Kent was instrumental in also getting Dick’s to chose that area by encouraging them to expand into their city and helping them to choose the site.”