skip to main content
caption: The Dick's Drive-In in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood.
Enlarge Icon
The Dick's Drive-In in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood.
Credit: Flickr Photo/Matthew Rutledge (CC BY 2.0)

Dick Spady, Who Gave Dick's Drive-In To Seattle, Has Died

The man behind Seattle's beloved Dick's Drive-In has died.

Dick Spady passed away Sunday morning in Seattle at age 92, the family said.

Born in 1923, Spady grew up in Portland, Oregon. He served in the Navy during World War II, attended Oregon State University, then went into commercial real estate.

Dick's son Jim Spady spoke with KUOW in 2013 about the moment at a diner that inspired his dad's business.

He said his dad asked a server how many days it took to sell a case of burgers.

"And the guy said, 'We sell all that in a day plus another one twice as big,'” Jim Spady said. “The light went off over my dad's head, and he thought, 'geez, if I could just a make a nickel for every hamburger I could sell, I'd have a pretty good business."

So in 1954, Dick Spady and two business partners opened the first Dick's drive-in, in the Wallingford neighborhood.

Dick’s has sold low-cost burgers, fries and shakes ever since. The chain now has six locations in Seattle.

Dick Spady was proud to pay his employees higher than minimum wage. His son Jim, now the company president, said Dick’s is continuing that legacy.

"So you come and work for us, we'll pay your way to the community college for two years, and we'll pay $8,000 a year towards your tuition at the UW," Jim Spady said.

(See details about that scholarship program here.)

Spady says his dad lived a great life and was very grateful. And Dick Spady ate at least one Dick's burger a week.

He is survived by his wife, Ina Lou Spady, and five children.

Photo: “Hamburgers Instant Service,” Matthew Rutledge on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

We would love to hear your feedback on our reporting