East or West, Everyone Loves a Good Dick's

John Riggins
If it looks like a Dick's and it quacks like a Dick's, it might not be a Dick's.
When Jim Spady visits Spokane, there's one regular stop he tries to make: Dick's Drive-In. It's an interesting experience for the CFO of the west-side Dick's Drive-In chain, which filed the permitting paperwork necessary to open its sixth location in Edmonds yesterday.

The Spokane version has no affiliation, but no one really seems to believe that. Standing in line in Spokane, Spady says, he'll hear speculation about drama or fallouts between the Spokane site and the Seattle chain. "It's almost like a little soap opera," he says, adding that he never corrects anyone.

Truth is, the two restaurants, while confusing to some and just one of the many sources of east/west angst in Washington, have never had any kind of bitter rivalry, despite both operating with the same name and concept for over 40 years.

Dick Spady opened his first restaurant in Wallingford in 1954, eventually settling into the five-location chain it is now. The Edmonds restaurant will be the first new location since 1974, according to the junior Spady.

The Spokane doppelganger opened 11 years after the Wallingford drive-in started to serve cheap burgers. The menu is expanded slightly to include chicken and fish. The signature burgers--sold by the bagful--are known as whammies.

With differences that are mostly subtleties, the two Dick's have lived almost parallel lives, becoming favorite places for broke high-schoolers, people looking to soak up alcohol binges, and irony-minded prom-dinner spots.

"I think our food's a little better, especially our shakes," Spady says. But he follows that with the impressively humble admittance that the point could be argued. "I'm sure the Spokane people love their Dick's the way Seattle people love theirs."

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