Dick Spady, the 92-year-old patriarch of the family that made Dick’s Drive-Ins an enduring part of Seattle culture, has died. The Seattle Times remembers Spady for his burgers — and his chain’s dedication to fair wages:
Throughout the years, Mr. Spady also took pride in offering the highest pay in the industry — well above minimum wage — as well as providing 100 percent paid health insurance coverage (part-time employees included) and giving more than $1 million in scholarships to employees. A 2012 Seattle Mayoral Proclamation for “Dick’s Drive-In Day” noted that the company boasted the lowest turnover rate in the industry, and that at the time, it had provided more than $1 million “to support local homeless charities, disaster relief efforts around the world, and public engagement efforts in Seattle, King County, and now statewide.”
Though it seems to hold a place as the quintessential Dick’s experience in Seattle, the Broadway Dick’s was the second burger joint Dick Spady opened after he got his start in Wallingford in 1954.
In 2013, the family-run business chose Broadway for its 60th anniversary celebration — a street party inspired in part by a Macklemore video shoot earlier that same summer. “If any Seattle artist gets three number one singles in a year, they can play the Dick’s roof,” Saul Spady told CHS at the time. “That’s the new standard.” For the Dick’s party, however, the big draw wasn’t Macklemore — Sir Mix-A-Lot, who had helped immortalize the drive-in with a verse in My Posse’s on Broadway, rocked Broadway at Dick’s 60th birthday party.
The Broadway drive-in has remained essentially unchanged since it opened in 1955 and the years the Spady family called Capitol Hill home. Today, the property is owned by Nancy Sandbloom after a 1995 “estate settlement” transferred ownership from Dick’s. Its stretch of Broadway has been busy with investment and planning as the development plans for the light rail station across the street takes shape. Meanwhile, the parcel home to the Broadway post office is being prepared a six-story mixed-use development and the land to the west and to the north of Dick’s has been redeveloped.