If you didn’t hear already, after more than 50 years of business, Mikie Burger went out of business in April.
A new restaurant called Prime 80/20 has opened in its place. Its first day of business was May 26.
Rewind to around 1965 for the back story of Mikie Burger.
That’s when the restaurant known as The Little Holland Drive-In operated on the edge of Tacoma at its border with Fircrest.
It was a small walk-up burger stand — which old timers will remember for the windmill that was attached —at 5008 Center St. It was known for its creamy custard and its signature Mikie Burger, a gluttonous masterpiece topped with Swiss cheese and Canadian bacon.
It had a number of owners over the years, including Mikele “Mikie” Channell, who is credited in News Tribune archives as the creator of the Mikie burger, and Janina Malzkzewski, who purchased the building in 1965, according to the News Tribune and Tacoma Public Library archives.
Around 2004, Dave and Dorthy Viskup bought the burger stand. About four years later, the Viskups started looking for a new owner because their drive-in was destined to be razed to make way for a building that now sits on the site.
Chi Baek and Soungwon "Tony" Hong bought the restaurant and relocated Little Holland across the street to 4915 Center St. They reopened the restaurant in January 2010. They promised they wouldn’t change a thing — and they didn’t for at least the first year. They kept the Mighty Mike, the pork sandwich, the custards and grilled hot dogs.
In 2014, they sold the restaurant to Michael Chang, a culinary-school graduate who changed the burger formula. He kept the Mikie Burger and the Mighty Mike but made a few menu changes/additions. He also changed the burgers, swapping sliced onions for chopped and switched from a sesame-seed bun to a cornmeal-dusted kaiser. He dropped the creamy custards from the menu. The name also changed from The Little Holland to Mikie Burger.
Chang closed Mikie Burger to make way for a new restaurant he owns with a different name, Prime 80/20, but with the same formula of burgers, fries and shakes. Those burgers, though, are a different style.
Prime 80/20 opened May 26. Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
That name: It’s a nod to the butcher term for hamburger patties that are 80-percent lean, 20-percent fat.
The dining room: Tidy with seating for 20 spread among six tables.
The menu: Short and uncomplicated. Six burgers, priced a la carte, $4.59-$6.49. Hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon-cheeseburger, blue cheese burger, mushroom-onion burger and a spicy burger with a hotlink, pepperjack cheese and jalapeno. Doubles priced $6.59-$8.39. Add a fry and medium drink to any burger for $3.99.
More: A chicken, hotlink, BLT or grilled mushroom onion sandwiches ($3.79-$4.89). Fries, onion rings, bacon cheese fries, plus six shakes.
The burgers: Different from Chang’s former style. Burgers now come with green leaf lettuce in lieu of iceberg, a mayo-ketchup style special sauce replacing the tartar-style spread, and a brioche bun instead of cornmeal kaiser. A quarter-pound Angus patty comes standard. Patties are hand formed from fresh beef.
Patties were cooked on a grill, with browned edges and no pink. A cheeseburger ($4.99) was topped with melted American and a tangy house sauce on the top bun, with leaf lettuce, tomato and sliced yellow onions anchoring the bottom bun, also slathered with burger sauce.
The mushroom-onion burger came topped with fresh mushrooms, cut thick and grilled, and caramelized onions, plus a thick layer of melted Swiss ($6.49). Lettuce and tomato anchored the bottom bun.
Fries: Contrary to the trend I’ve been seeing with fries with a smaller surface area, these were thick-cut steak fries. The $3.39 order was served in a cup — Five Guys Style — and easily fed two.
Onion rings: Made in house, thick-cut onions coated in a terrific crunchy panko-style breading and fried until just a bit of resistance left in those onions ($3.99).
Shakes: Six flavors, in one size ($3.59). Vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, banana, raspberry, blackberry.
Prime Burger 80/20
4915 Center St., Tacoma; 253-267-1598.