First Burgerville USA restaurant opens in Vancouver on March 10, 1961.

  • By Gregg Herrington
  • Posted 9/30/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8792

On March 10, 1961, the first Burgerville USA opens on Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, Washington, three miles east of downtown. There's no drive-through lane or inside seating, so all customers order from an outside window. It offers no-frills burgers for 19 cents, a "Colossal Burger" for 39 cents, fries, a shrimp burger, soft serve cones, sundaes, shakes, lime frosties, soft drinks, and coffee. With its speedy service and 19-cent burger, it is a local novelty. But Burgerville is also an instant hit with Vancouver teenagers. This Burgerville remains in business in that building until 1975 when it is replaced with a larger Burgerville next door that offers inside seating and drive-through service.

The Burgerville Empire

Burgerville founder and owner George Propstra, whose business pride and joy since the early 1930s had been The Holland full-service family restaurant in Vancouver, waited several months, until 1962, to open the second Burgerville USA. This one was in downtown Vancouver just west of the Mill Plain exit from Interstate 5. It is now the oldest Burgerville in the same building, and the only one with no inside seating.

 “USA” is no longer part of the name, but the Burgerville empire includes 39 restaurants, from Albany, Oregon, to Centralia, Washington, and east to The Dalles, Oregon. Menu choices, including breakfasts, have been added, revised, and upgraded numerous times, along with the addition of seasonal Northwest specialties, such as onion rings made from Walla Walla Sweets and shakes flavored with Northwest blackberries and Oregon hazelnuts.


Sources: Gregg Herrington interview with Jack Graves, September 5, 2008, Vancouver, Washington; “Company Profile,” burgerville.com website accessed August 7, 2008 (http://burgerville.com).

Related Topics:   Business

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