Serving Everett fast food for 43 years

Lovers of Chihuahua Dogs may rest easy. It’s expected that new owners of Taco Time at 3805 Rucker Ave. in Everett will keep the local favorite on the menu.

Gordon and Marylyn Anderson are selling the business they started 43 years ago.

Taco Time is going corporate.

Anderson said he thinks new owners, who live in Renton, will still offer deep-fried, cheesy, tortilla dogs. As the boss, Anderson tweaked the regular Taco Time menu a bit to add local favorites.

Back in 1964, the Spokane couple had moved to Everett for his job with National Cash Register.

“I heard about this opportunity and decided to give it a shot,” Gordon Anderson, 83, said. “It’s been a good living.”

It cost $12,000 in 1964 to build the store. Back then, Rucker Avenue was a two-lane road. “Squeak” Erickson made and sold huckleberry pies at a bakery next door, there was a garden shop across the street and one gas station at 41st Street.

Fast food, particularly Mexican, was a novelty. Back in the ’60s, many people couldn’t afford to go to Mexico, Marylyn Anderson, 78, said. She said the upper echelon of Everett, who traveled, would come by the restaurant for tacos.

Of course, business ebbed and flowed. Marylyn Anderson said she doesn’t remember how they managed to run a restaurant, with four little boys at their Everett home, including Peter, Tom, Steve and Wayne. The couple both worked the day shift and remember sweating when the cash register once rang out with only $17 after the lunch hour.

All their boys worked at the Rucker store, as well as some of their grandchildren. They also ran the Taco Time booth at the annual Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. The Rucker store was remodeled through the years and a drive-through was added in 1995.

Hundreds of Everettites have worked at his restaurant, Mr. Anderson said.

“And we would hire from the prison,” he said. “Most of them were good workers.”

During the more than four decades the Andersons were in business, they on average spent 30 cents of every dollar that came into the business on labor costs.

“The workers loved him,” his wife said. “Gordy has been known to loan money.”

They gave paid vacations and Christmas bonuses. Laurie Durick of Everett has worked for the Andersons for 28 years. She said will stay on with corporate.

“It’s a steady job,” Durick said. “It’s like family here.”

When her son was 16, he got a job at Taco Time. Durick’s husband has worked there for 11 years. Two sisters have been employed there.

“It’s the only place I can go see my family and friends,” Laurie Durick said, laughing. “When you are treated well, you stay.”

Her boss came to her wedding, she added. She’s been on maternity leave twice.

“It’s kind of sad going corporate,” Durick said. “It’s like the end of something.”

For the Andersons, it’s the beginning of not setting an alarm clock. Gordon Anderson joked that his wife is finally letting him retire and hang around the house. He used to go to the restaurant every morning, and seldom missed 5 a.m. Tuesday deliveries.

They won’t miss scrubbing restaurant bathrooms. Gordon Anderson said if you keep them clean, most customers will keep them tidy in turn. The couple has taken time off to travel, but no more than 10 days in a row.

They’ve been to every state in the union, and toured every presidential library.

In retirement, Marylyn Anderson said they aim to do piddly things.

“Like drive to Deception Pass,” she said. “We’ll do dumb things.”

Sales paperwork could be signed any day now. It would be a shame if new owners get rid of the 43-year-old Taco Time sign on Rucker Avenue. It used to rotate, but it stopped spinning about a dozen years ago.

The family plans to gather soon at the restaurant for a cake wake. Marylyn Anderson said her husband is a bit weary, and it’s time to retire.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “Gordy has worked hard at it.”

Grandchildren will retire wallet-sized cards they carry, issued by their grandparents, saying their meals were complimentary. That means when the store goes corporate, they won’t get free Chihuahua Dogs, made from Everett’s Goetz and Sons Western Meat foot-long wieners.

Gordon Anderson said he’ll miss his customers, workers and friends, but may drop by for his favorite — taco salads.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

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