Classic burger joint Old 76 now open on Mercer Island

August 2, 2019 | by Naomi Tomky

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As the Blue Angels roared overhead, the first people arrived at Old 76, the newest addition to Mercer Island’s restaurant scene. Customers awaited the opening at 11 am on Thursday, August 1st, looking to be among the first to try the new classic burger shop from the team behind Homegrown.

“It’s exciting how excited people have been,” said Marketing Manager Haley Knight. “They’ve been poking their heads in asking about it all week.”

Many of the 82 seats in the former Freshy’s location, divided between counter seating, indoor space, and patio seating under the gas station awning, were filling quickly within minutes of the opening. High schoolers, construction workers, and families looked to be enjoying their first bites into the classic burgers and fries.

The menu, like the restaurant design (complete with hand-painted signs), sticks to the old-school burger shop options, featuring just three burgers (the Old 76, classic, and a kid version), grilled cheese, fries, and a salad. Following the same strict sourcing protocol as Homegrown, the burger is made with 100% grass-fed local beef from Carman ranch.

The Old 76 comes with crispy onions, sliced pickles, cheddar cheese, organic lettuce and tomato, and signature “76 sauce,” all served on a Martin’s potato bun. If that’s not enough, though, customers can add bacon—or sub for a plant-based burger or gluten-free, vegan bun. The smash patty-style burger comes out with the requisite crispy edges, just as it should, and the medium-cut fries, dusted with the house seasoning, come crunchy on the outside and barely soft inside.

The drinks menu offers a bit more variety, starting with hand-dipped shakes made from Snoqualmie Ice Cream and using whole fresh fruit, including a seasonal flavor, which is currently PNW marionberry. A fountain soda “filling station” (this is an old gas station, after all) dispenses Jones Soda, and the only non-compostable material on site are the recyclable cans for the hard Sound seltzer and Pampelonne wine. The beer, including Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale Ale and Reuben’s Hazelicious IPA, as well as the Incline Lemongrass Cider, are served on draught.

But while the sourcing casts a net for the best products of the Pacific Northwest, some of the touches stick even closer to home: the bright space is decorated with old photos of Mercer Island scenes, reflecting the community focus of the company.

“Almost half of our team grew up here,” says Knight of the company’s Mercer Island roots. “Everyone is excited to invite their families here.”

Owner Brad Gillis spoke with My Mercer Island about this when the renovation process began in the space a few months ago, saying he’s happy to open Old 76 in his hometown because, “Mercer Island is a great community without a lot of options, especially family-friendly restaurants to sit outside at.”

Old 76 is now open at 2411 76th Ave SE and online at Old76.com. The hours are 11 am to 8 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 11 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday. Starting August 26th, Old 76 will offer delivery service through Caviar.

Photos courtesy Old 76.

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