As a longtime Stop n Go Drive In customer, Abe Lopez was saddened when the iconic burger stand was destroyed by a fire in July.

“I never ate another burger in Yakima after that,” said Lopez, who lives in Spokane but comes to Yakima regularly to see family. “It’s the best burgers in town.”

While he had heard that the Wade family planned to rebuild and reopen, he was surprised Saturday when he found cars and people lined up for lunch. He was among hundreds who braved cold weather and a half-hour wait Saturday to get their Texas cheeseburger and fries fix, as well as a free ice cream cone.

Restaurant co-ownerJosie Wade said Saturday’s reopening crowd far surpassed their busiest days. And she and her husband, Anthony Wade, are grateful for the people who stuck by them.

“People have been so supportive,” Josie Wade said, as Anthony Wade was busy behind the grill cooking meals for customers lined up at both the walk-up windows and the drive-through. “We’re too busy to be emotional about it, but it is cool.”

The Fruitvale Boulevard restaurant was built in 1948, and Wilbert and Christine Wade, Anthony’s parents, bought it in 1996 for $145,000, according to Yakima County tax records.

Christine Wade took over the restaurant after Wilbert was killed in a 2000 crash near Goldendale. Anthony, who was severely burned in the crash, bought the business from his mother in 2014 and took over the business with Josie, who also works as a teacher at Terrace Heights Elementary School.

Multiple people called 911 around 11:43 a.m. on July 18, 2019, when they saw smoke and flames coming from the restaurant. The fire, which was deemed an accidental electrical fire, caused $115,000 in damage to the building, making it a total loss.

But the Wades vowed that the restaurant would be rebuilt, inspiring a tremendous outpouring of support on social media. In an earlier interview, Josie Wade said the restaurant “was a special part of the family,” particularly for her children who never got to meet their grandfather.

Saturday’s reopening brought out hundreds of customers, many longtime fans of the restaurant. The business’ parking lot was filled, and a near-constant line of cars was making its way through the drive-through.

Josie Wade said a family errand kept her away from the initial two hours it was open Saturday, but when she got there cars were lined up two deep to get in.

Among those who came out was Annette Hahn, who once worked at the restaurant.

“It was my first job back in 1983,” Hahn said. “I was hoping they would rebuild, and frankly this is awesome.”

Gene Robbins and other members of the Brown Crowd Car Club were there as well. Robbins said the drive-in was a favorite hangout for club members, and he was happy to see it back in business, even if he had to sit in the cold and wait for his food.

“It gives us somewhere to come out with our cars,” Robbins said.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.