August 28, 2010 in Washington Voices

Drive-in owner, crew happy but exhausted

Ron’s anniversary ‘party’ drew thousands of new, old customers
By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photo

“We’re not here for the food, we’re here for the event I think,” commented one Ron’s Drive In regular who waited in line with hundreds of other customers for a chance to enjoy the original ’57 Combo, an Original Burger, small fries and a small drink for 57 cents.
(Full-size photo)

Celebrating 52 years of a Spokane Valley landmark is hard work.

Denny Hegewald, the owner of Ron’s Drive In, threw a party to celebrate the burger joint’s anniversary Wednesday and probably bit off more than he could chew.

He described the way he felt the day after the celebration as a “dull, full-body ache,” kind of like he’d been in a car accident.

The business sold nearly 10,000 Original Burgers on Wednesday and about half that many fries. The burgers, fries and a small drink sold for 19 cents each or for 57 cents, customers could get a combo meal.

Although the lines were long – folks were experiencing a two-hour wait during the busiest hours, with some customers enjoying their burgers sitting on the sidewalks outside – the atmosphere was happy and friendly.

“I think it was a party,” Hegeland said. Many people told him they had met up with friends they hadn’t seen in years.

He said the employees handled the extra business with a good nature and decided to have fun with it. They were all paid time and a half for their efforts.

It wasn’t the first time Ron’s had thrown a party this large. In 1983, the previous owner, Ron Genova, had a similar sale and sold about 13,000 burgers. But Hegeland said the production of the burgers today is different now than it was in 1983. Back then, workers could cook 72 burgers at a time on the grill. Now, they can only cook half that.

Hegeland said he planned to keep the party going from 10:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., but the large crowds and lines kept them open much longer. They served their last burger at 9:30 p.m.

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