It’s been 18 months, 65,268 hamburgers, 20,135 milkshakes, 34,519 orders of French fries, and 7,241 take-out orders since Hammy’s Burgers opened.
And in those months since July 2014, the regular cheeseburgers and the chocolate shakes have been the most popular items.
That’s according to Kendra Vita, a member of the Hammy’s team of about 10 employees. The 1950s-style retro diner in Pleasant Beach Village has made it through it’s first year and, unlike 98 percent of restaurants that go under in that time, Hammy’s is gaining in popularity.
“It’s the consistency in the food we serve and our great customer service that’s made the difference,” Vita said. “We really work as a team here and about half of us have been here since the beginning.”
The restaurant is owned by John Jacobi, the developer of Pleasant Beach Village. The village is a mixture of retail space, apartments, restaurants, boutique lodging, and, of course, the great hamburger joint.
“The idea all along was to provide a place where people — including families with children — could get an inexpensive meal,” said Vita. “They can do that at Hammy’s. And we hope to always offer a burger under $5.”
There are 11 different burgers on the menu, including a Hawaiian burger with a pineapple slice, a bacon cheeseburger and a barbecue burger. There’s the option of veggie burgers and chicken sandwiches, a grilled cheese sandwich, a BLT or a hot dog. Couple any of those with French fries, tater tots or onion rings, and throw in a homemade milkshake made with fresh in-season fruit and it’s a meal.
“We serve certified Angus beef, local to the Pacific Northwest, and we use all local vegetables and fruit — lettuce, onions, tomatoes,” Vita said. “Our milkshakes are made with fresh in-season fruit, like peach shakes in the summer when peaches are in season. Otherwise, it’s local fruit that’s been frozen.”
Burgers range from the Basic at $4.75, a quarter-pound patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, to the BBQ Burger at $7.85, which is a quarter-pound patty with Jack Daniels sauce and caramelized onions on a Kaiser bun. There’s the option of a gluten-free bun on any sandwich. Sides are $2.95 to $3.95 and shakes are $4.50. There’s fountain drinks, coffee and milk, also.
Hammy’s also makes its own special sauce that can go on burgers, chicken, or be used as a dip for fries. Don’t ask what’s in it — because that’s a family recipe — but imagine Thousand Island dressing mixed with tartar sauce and mayo with a smoky flavor.
The burger joint, decorated in black-and-white checkerboard tiles, has a throw-back feel, with a 1920s Seeburg jukebox and a coin-operated basketball game that only takes nickels and dimes, just like in the “Happy Days” era. There’s an authentic Coca-Cola logo vinyl booth, old-style wood booths and swivel bar stools at the counter.
Some of the photographs on the wall came from the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, revealing Winslow baseball teams in their early days and a shot of the 1955 Bainbridge Island Spartans basketball team. An entire wall of the restaurant is windows and allow patrons to watch the happenings along Pleasant Beach Drive.
The busiest times for the place are Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, and after the nearby movie theater lets out.
“Summers are always great,” Vita said. “We’re busy all the time then. Sunny days bring people out, too.”
She’s found that many of their customers are people who work nearby, or those who come to shop at Lynwood. There are groups of mothers who come to eat and talk with each other, while their children play at kid-sized tables or use the chalkboards available to them. There are also videos for the kids to watch.
“We really want this place to be casual, family dining,” Vita said. “With some of the kids, in the past 18 months, we’ve watched them grow up and go from chicken strips to hamburgers.”
And, she added, some of their customers are predictable, repeat business.
“We have regulars that come on the same day of the week, the same time each time, and order the same thing,” she said.
Because Hammy’s is owned by Jacobi, who also owns the Manor House Restaurant, the Marketplace and the Beach House bar, professional restaurant management practices are shared among the places.
As for the name, Hammy’s….
“It’s the nickname that John’s grandchildren call him,” Vita said.