As a trio of Everett police officers left their table at Burgermaster on Thursday, Mike Kapustin walked in for his daily breakfast. That’s right, daily — and nearly always the same order, a Number 2, with scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast and sausage, or sometimes ham.
Next week, the 82-year-old Snohomish man will have to find a new eatery. The Everett Burgermaster, since 2005 a popular spot at 7909 Evergreen Way, is closing its doors permanently at the end of business Sunday.
Jack Simmons, owner and manager of the Everett franchise location, “is retiring to garden, play tennis and spend time with his grandchildren,” said an announcement of the restaurant closure. At the Burgermaster on Wednesday, Simmons said he’s selling the property, a former Burger King location, to another food purveyor, Bellevue-based MOD Pizza.
“Evergreen Way — Everett, WA,” says a page on the MOD Pizza website, “Coming Soon.”
No more will Burgermaster regulars find their favorites — classic burgers and milkshakes, BBQ pork ribs, spaghetti and garlic bread, even Swedish pancakes — at the Everett location. Other Burgermaster restaurants remain, one near Mill Creek on the Bothell Everett Highway, and others in Bellevue, Mount Vernon, on Aurora Avenue in north Seattle, and the original near Seattle’s University Village.
As customers said their hellos and goodbyes, Simmons talked this week about his four decades in the restaurant business. The Shoreline man spent most of those years with Burgermaster, which was founded in 1952 by his father-in-law, Phil Jensen, who died in 2009. Phil Jensen’s widow, Mary Jensen, will soon turn 100, Simmons said.
His wife, Michele Simmons, the Jensens’ daughter, said she and her three siblings grew up with Burgermaster. “I have cooked french fries and been a carhop. One memory is spilling a large Coke on a customer,” she said.
Michele Simmons said her brother, Bob Jensen, is now Burgermaster’s CEO, and his son, Alex Jensen, bought the business and is its president. “It’s the third generation,” she said.
Marysville’s Tom Lee and his wife, Carol, were enjoying breakfast at the Everett Burgermaster Thursday. Although it was early, Tom Lee had a burger while his wife ate a waffle. “The thing is, he’s always here,” Tom Lee said of Jack Simmons.
“Whenever you see the owner, you’re sure to get the best service. I can’t blame him for wanting to retire, but it’s too bad. The food is always consistently good,” said Tom Lee, who once worked near the UW’s Seattle campus and the Burgermaster there.
Now an inside restaurant, that first Burgermaster on Seattle’s NE 45th Street began as a 1950s-style drive-in. It had carhops, à la “American Graffiti,” which the Mill Creek Burgermaster and three others still have, Michele Simmons said. The Everett location instead has a drive-through, left from its Burger King days.
“We don’t consider ourselves fast food. We’re quick service,” said Jack Simmons, adding that food isn’t prepared until someone orders it.
The Burgermaster on Bellevue’s Northup Way was often frequented by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in the company’s early days, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal and the 1993 book “Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire.” The book by James Wallace and Jim Erickson described Gates’ favorite Burgermaster meal: “hamburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.”
“I think he’s still a customer,” said Michele Simmons, but added “I’ve never waited on him.”
While it hasn’t been on the Everett scene for decades, loyal customers have made the Burgermaster here an institution of sorts. Along with Kennelly Keys Music, the restaurant has hosted an annual hot rods and muscle cars show. A group of classic car enthusiasts, the Thursday Night Garage Association, has made the Evergreen Way Burgermaster its meeting place.
Rich Rauch, of Edmonds, had a Burgermaster breakfast Thursday. Asked if he’s a regular, the 67-year-old said, “I would be if they weren’t closing.”
Kapustin, the daily customer from Snohomish, could only say “grrrr” in reply to news of the closure. “I’m a fussy eater,” the Boeing retiree said. “This place does everything right.” A morning bowler, he’s planning to try breakfast at nearby Glacier Lanes.
Neither owner nor customer will forget the place that served up friendship along with hearty meals.
“Yes sir, I’m going to miss you,” Simmons told Kapustin Thursday. The diner echoed that sentiment. “I’m going to miss you,” Kapustin said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.