Hap’s Burgers & Taps delivers a delicious burger and recalls local history

April 30, 2020 | by Scott Strandberg

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Last August, a brand-new burger joint called Old 76 arrived on Mercer Island, pairing classic tastes with regionally sourced ingredients to create a new favorite local dining spot. Now, the restaurant has re-branded as Hap’s Burgers & Taps, a name that calls back to Mercer Island history, dating back more than a century.

In 1918, Ewart “Hap” and George “Speed” Lightfoot opened their new filling station on the corner of SE 24th St and 76th Ave SE in Mercer Island, giving the island its first gas station. The Lightfoots’ impact on Mercer Island can still be felt today, as the family also brought the city its first post office and grocery store.

Owned and operated by the same restaurant group that owns the popular Seattle-based chain Homegrown, Old 76 opened its doors in the same location as the Lightfoots’ original gas station. However, it wasn’t too long before owner Brad Gillis — who calls Mercer Island his hometown — and his management team realized they wanted a deeper local connection with their restaurant’s branding.

Gillis dug into Mercer Island’s history to find a new name that would be exciting for residents. Hap’s Burgers & Taps was one of several different names the ownership group came up with, but it quickly became everyone’s favorite option.

“Once we decided on the Hap’s Burgers & Taps name, we were able to get in touch with Liz Lightfoot, Hap Lightfoot’s granddaughter,” said Jose Valles, the general manager of Hap’s Burgers and Taps. “She was thrilled to hear our plans, and she was very happy to give us her blessing to go ahead with the new name.”

While the branding may have changed, customers can still find all of their favorites from the Old 76 menu at Hap’s Burgers & Taps. Formerly known as the Old 76 Burger, The HAP Burger is the restaurant’s signature item, with crispy onions, cheddar cheese, sliced pickles, organic lettuce and tomato, and their secret HAP sauce topping a quarter-pound grass-fed beef burger patty sourced from Carman Ranch in Oregon.

In addition, Hap’s Burgers & Taps offers classic burgers and cheeseburgers, plant-based burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, fries, and kale slaw. They also carry a rotating selection of draft beer, along with wine, Jones Soda, sparkling water, iced tea, lemonade, and organic milk.

While Hap’s Burgers & Taps is currently closed for dine-in orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, customers can still get their fix of Hap’s burgers by ordering pickup or delivery. You can find links to their order form on their website (www.hapsburgers.com).

As soon as social distancing guidelines are lifted, the Hap’s team is eager to welcome customers to return to the plentiful outdoor seating during the sunny summer months. The restaurant has 82 total seats, and about two-thirds of them are located outdoors under the awning that once covered the gas pumps at the 76 gas station.

It has been an eventful first year for this Mercer Island burger joint. They first opened their doors to coincide with the 2019 Seafair event in August, then changed their business name and marketing concept, and also weathered a global pandemic. Despite the rollercoaster ride the restaurant has experienced thus far, Gillis and his team think that the best is yet to come for Hap’s Burgers & Taps.

Learn more about Hap’s and check out their menu and take-out/delivery options at www.hapsburgers.com.

Photos courtesy Hap’s Burgers & Taps.