Dave’s Burgers, the Lynnwood drive-thru at 19509 44th Ave. W., opened in 1990 and has been family-owned and operated ever since.
These days, it is Caitlyn Webber’s family that does everything from serving up the milkshakes to sprucing up the landscaping. Webber has worked at the drive-thru since she was a teenager, moving up to business partner and eventually taking over ownership.
Q: How, or why, did you decide to open your business?
A: I first started working at Dave’s when I was just 16 years old. For over 10 years I worked here, learning every aspect of the business and eventually became a business partner. When the previous owner decided to sell for personal reasons, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to take over full ownership of this Lynnwood staple. I wanted to preserve tradition while incorporating new and innovative ideas to improve the restaurant.
Q: What convinced you that this was the job for you?
A: The mom-‘n’-pop feel of the business and the people who have become our “regulars” make this job so enjoyable. Without the support of all our loyal customers, we would not have been here for this long. I’m serving up a local flavor that is the community’s own. It just feels good to work here…it feels right.
Q: What does it take to blend your passion with your livelihood?
A: I am fortunate to have the opportunity to create my livelihood doing what I love. I think it’s a blessing when people can’t tell the difference between when they’re working and when they’re playing. I love that my work and leisure are almost indistinguishable.
For those of us working in food service; there is no “9 to 5.” There’s no beginning and ending office hours and no punching in and out of a time clock. But in reality, I wouldn’t want it any other way. My passion drives my work, something that fuels me 24/7 and blends the traditional boundaries of “work” and “leisure.” You always hear typical career advice that suggests ways to balance your work and your family and personal life. For me, I’d argue the opposite: Dive in, work with passion and take all the other important elements of your life with you.
Q: What are the crucial elements for success for your business?
A: I think flexibility, consistency and quality are crucial elements for success. The principal product of Dave’s Burgers is fast-served, quality, American favorites. The meals are based on a central theme of old-fashioned burgers, but being locally owned and operated we have a flexible degree of customization to suit the purchasers’ tastes. This ability to be responsive to our customers is crucial. Having a consistency in the service and menu items is essential for success.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you meet it?
A: Economic changes have been our biggest challenge as we have seen many local restaurants close their doors. Thankfully, we have managed to stay in business serving a quality product that we are proud to stand behind. I have felt the impact of food costs as they continue to substantially increase. However, I am committed to keeping our great prices. Fortunately I have vendors who insist on providing the quality I expect, at fair and reasonable prices.
Q: How did your friends and family react when you told them you were getting into this business?
A: I have always had the support and encouragement of my family as my position at Dave’s has evolved. Owning my own restaurant enables me to involve my family directly in my work. We are family operated and I love that my family is involved with all aspects of the business, from catering to planting the garden. The integration opportunity takes the relationship with my family to new levels that simply don’t happen in conventional job situations.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Having the freedom and authority to make decisions, creating a livelihood that fully reflects my and my family’s values and not someone else’s agenda is a major motivator. I also love that we are able to give back to the community through myriad sponsorship opportunities in the schools, youth sports, city events and the food banks. I am proud to be involved in the community and feel fortunate to be able to contribute.
Q: What personal abilities do you think are needed to excel in this business?
A: Owning your own business, you have to wear many “hats.” I believe desire and persistence along with determination, setting goals, paying attention to detail and motivating others are key elements for success and business growth.
I try to always look at the big picture. I also think having a strong support system around me at all times has been a saving grace. In this business no one can truly do it alone; you need to have family and friends that allow you to bounce ideas and emotions off of. If I didn’t have these wonderful people in my life, I don’t know how it would all work out.
Q: When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: I love spending time with my family and friends, walking my dog and being outdoors. It’s wonderful to live in the Northwest and I look forward to opportunities to take trips to the mountains and beaches and celebrating all the seasons. I also love volunteering in the community and being a mentor for at-risk youth.