How Dick’s made its pick of Edmonds

By Mina Williams Herald Writer

Dick’s Drive-In vice president Jim Spady was to speak today about how the Seattle-based restaurant chain used social media to help select Edmonds as the site of its first new drive-in in 37 years.

Spady was scheduled to give an address at noon during the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue. Spady also is scheduled to speak May 1 at the Rotary Club of Edmonds and May 31 at the Rotary Club of Lynnwood.

More than 1,000 people showed up when the popular business opened its first Snohomish County restaurant last October at 21910 Highway 99.

Customers and the community had been asked where the new spot should be located — north, south or east of Seattle. An online poll collected more than 115,000 votes. More than 50,000 were posted in favor of a north-end location, Spady said in an interview.

“Social media involves customers,” he said. “To the extent they can, they will help.”

Dick’s Facebook fan page was launched in 2010, created by a customer. When the base reached beyond 30,000, the customer came to Dick’s with a dilemma — the page was hard for him to manage. It was offered to the company.

“It was like a snowball rolling,” Spady said. “We weren’t sure how to use it. The first time we did it was to have the vote for the new location. Fans were directed to our website to do their voting.”

The page now has more than 194,000 fans.

Success like that might be behind Dick’s being named the “most life-changing burger joint” by Esquire magazine. That result was captured in a poll, as well.

“That means a lot,” Spady said. “When you are up against the big guys — In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys Burgers — it’s a big deal. But we are small, scrappy and nimble.”

Location of the Edmonds Dick’s has been key to success.

“When we went to look at properties, we found the perfect spot,” Spady said. “A great parcel, on Highway 99, close to I-5. The Haggen family, the property owners, are friendly and big fans of ours.”

“The city was great to work with and is real business friendly,” he said pointing out that the location was announced in October 2010, permitted in May 2011 and opened last fall.