For six months, Pam Hubert has told curious passersby that she’ll be opening Lefty’s Burger Shack in “two weeks.”
This time, she means it.
The University Place burger restaurant has been Hubert’s working dream for two years, and all she needs now is health department approval to open. She expects that will come this week or next. The burger restaurant will serve hand-formed burgers, hot dogs and something that sounds genius in theory: “frings,” which are combination orders of fries and onion rings.
Hubert, a first-time restaurant owner who has lived on Day Island for 15 years, is opening Lefty's in a funky little building where the burger restaurant Dairy Dell once operated (News Tribune archives also list previous tenants as U.P. Grill and Arctic Circle, anyone know what else has operated in that building?). Said Hubert in a phone interview about the building's history as Dairy Dell, “We used to come here growing up, and everybody for … years has said, ‘I wish someone would open that place.’” And now those people keep stopping by to ask Hubert when she’ll finally open. “I have 20 to 40 people come by every day,” said Hubert, who has been surprised at the volume of interest.
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It’s been a long learning process for Hubert, who will operate the restaurant with her two teenage sons and her mother. She leased the building two years ago, but a grease interceptor that cost three times what she had expected delayed her plans to open many months ago. She also did extensive remodeling. “I gutted the interior,” said Hubert. With the building ready, she now says she only awaits health department approval.
She’s finalizing the menu this week, but expect to find burgers, fries, onion rings, dogs and shakes, said Hubert.
“The taste of homemade, great ingredients,” is how Hubert described her food. She uses all the right burger buzz words that I like to hear: She’ll serve ground chuck burgers - fresh, never frozen - that she will hand form. “They’re never perfectly square or round,” said Hubert of her hand-formed patties. She’ll have a half-pound burger that’s an ode to the Curtis High School Vikings, but her standard burger will be a quarter pound patty. She’ll also serve specialty burgers like a bacon blue cheese burger, a Western barbecue burger, a guacamole and fried egg burger. Nathan’s hot dogs will come with kraut or chili.
She wants to serve hand-cut, fresh fries, but she’s worried about consistency and quality, so she’s considering going with frozen fries. She’s testing a cooking method for the hand-cut fries now. No matter what kind of fries she decides to serve, she’ll offer diners a choice of “frings,” an order of fries with some onion rings thrown in.
Hubert may be new to owning and cooking at a restaurant, but she’s not new to the food business. She previously worked as a district manager for a food broker.
Check back here next week for an update on the opening. I'll also post a menu as soon as one is available.
Lefty’s Burger ShackWhere: 8317 27th St. W., University PlaceContact: Phone, website and Facebook pages all are in the works. Hours: Tentatively planned hours are 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to at least 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday