May 9, 1996 in Washington Voices

New Owners Save Wolffy’s, Keep It Hoppin’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Valley fans of big burgers and the Leave-It-To-Beaver era need not fret - the Wolffy’s at Argonne and Montgomery isn’t closing.

March’s news that the North Side Wolffy’s was going to become a parking lot caused some Valley folks to fear the worst. But Jill and Ron Branson bought the Valley burger joint and took it over April 9.

The car-hops even skated back onto the scene April 30.

“A lot of people think ours is closed as well,” Jill Branson said. “We’re here, and it’s the same food, the same Wolffy’s.”

The restaurant’s doo-wop concept - vinyl red booths and stools, juke boxes and neon soda signs - won’t change.

“If anything, we’re just adding a few thing to dress it up a little bit,” Branson said.

The outside will get some new menu boards for people using the roller-skate-powered car hop service. Branson is also in the market for a few pieces of used decor. She’s looking for old product signs, license plates, all sorts of cool stuff from the days of the hula-hoop. “Anything that’s paraphernalia from back then.”

The Bransons are new to the restaurant business. Jill worked for years as a nurse, Ron works as a real estate broker for Tomlinson Black in Coeur d’Alene. These days Jill Branson manages the restaurant, Ron helps when she’s in a bind.

The couple are friends of the two Bob Davises, the father-and-son team who founded Wolffy’s in 1989.

When they heard the place was going to close, Jill Branson’s desire for a change of pace combined with the couple’s mutual affection for nostalgia, and the Wolffy’s torch was passed.

The Davises have said they plan to open a steak house in the future.

Jill Branson said Wolffy’s appealed to her for the same reasons she thinks it appeals to her customers. The restaurant serves as a little island, a reminder of days when things at least seemed more innocent.

“I think that was way back when where was not a lot of crime, there wasn’t a lot of drugs, just good clean fun.”

The Bransons like the stability of the staff, too. For a fast-food place, Wolffy’s has had pretty good luck keeping employees. Three employees have been there since or just shortly after the place opened.

Bob Mankin, a cook who has worked there for six years, said the whole family-fun thing rubs off. “It’s a friendly place, a nice place to work,” he said.

The phone lines at the Valley eatery are jammed at times. People want to see if it is closing like the North Side restaurant did.

No way, Branson tells them.

, DataTimes

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