By Leslie Moriarty
SNOHOMISH — For one last time, Steve Dana will don his apron and fry hamburgers on the grill at the HUB Drive In today.
And then, when closing time comes, he’ll turn off the grill and hang up his apron.
At least until March.
The end has come for an old Snohomish institution, the HUB Drive-In at 10th Street and Avenue D. But a new beginning is in the making. Dana, owner of the drive-in, plans a new HUB2K restaurant to open in March at the same location.
Dana and brothers Tom and Rick, who have worked in the business for 40 years since parents Nowell and Shirley Dana bought it, plan to take the 1949 building out in style.
A champagne and cake reception is set for 6:30 p.m. for former employees and friends of the drive-in.
"I wanted to do something that would allow all the people who worked here over the years to come back here for one last time," Steve Dana said.
Even Dana’s sister, Melody, is coming to town from California.
And there’s some irony in that. As Steve tells the story, Melody is the only family member who didn’t work in the drive-in.
"Back when she was in high school, dad didn’t believe in girls working," he said.
With places like McDonald’s across the street, Dana felt the HUB had to grow to be able to compete in the burger business; his old grill can only fit nine burgers at a time.
In the past several months, Snohomish has been realigning the streets to allow better traffic flow and to add a stoplight.
That made way for Dana to have room to expand. He plans to tear down a house that sits next to the HUB and construct a three-story building where the house and the old HUB sit. The building will face Avenue D.
The restaurant will occupy the first floor. It will seat 50 people and will have a room in which groups can host luncheon meetings.
Approximately 2,400 square feet of leased office space will be on the second floor, and a third floor will have two apartments.
Dana promises his original hamburger menu will remain. But he wants the restaurant to be more of a sit-down type of place.
He knows it’s been the aura of the 1950’s style drive-in that’s kept the HUB so popular for years.
The HUB originated across from the old Snohomish Fairgrounds and next to a railroad track, a central business in town, and hence, the name HUB.
Throughout the years, it’s been a popular place for kids to hang out, as well as a place for people to get a quick lunch.
On an average day, the HUB sells about 130 hamburgers. Many of those are Panther burgers, named for the Snohomish High School mascot.
The HUB’s been a favorite of Shanna Habich since she was 8 years old.
"Back then (1978), there was nothing else around here," she said. "But when they built McDonald’s across the street, I told my mother I wouldn’t go there.
"My brothers wanted McDonald’s, though, so she’d have to take them there and take me to the HUB ."
Today, Habich will take her son, Jayce, 6, to the HUB as she did on Tuesday, to get a last special deluxe cheeseburger and a photograph of him in front of the soon-to-be-bulldozed drive-in.
You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436
or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.