The Stop N Go Drive In was more than a place for generations of Yakima residents to get their hamburger and ice cream cone fixes.
For Anthony and Josie Wade, it is a piece of their family’s legacy going back nearly 23 years to when Anthony Wade’s parents bought the restaurant.
Wilbert Wade “didn’t meet any of his grandkids,” Josie Wade said, fighting back tears. “The restaurant is a piece of him that his grandkids can enjoy. It was a special part of the family.”
A Thursday morning fire destroyed the 71-year-old Fruitvale Boulevard hamburger stand, but Josie Wade said she and her husband have vowed that it will reopen. The fire, she said, was a “bump in the road” that they’ll get through.
The fire, and the Wades’ subsequent announcement that they would rebuild and reopen, brought a tremendous outpouring of support on social media for the family and an institution many people have cherished.
“Your business has been a part of our family’s lives for over 40 years, not to mention my wife worked there while attending high school in the mid-1980s,” Yakima fire Capt. Jeff Pfaff posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We will be one of the first in line for the reopening.”
“Yakima wouldn’t be the same without you,” Kelley McAskill said in a Facebook post.
“My family was agonizing with you in your loss,” Darren Smith wrote on Facebook. “Many were saying, ‘Where do we go for ice cream and fries now?’”
Firefighters were called to the drive-in around 11:43 a.m. Thursday after multiple people reported seeing smoke and flames at the restaurant. Firefighters found flames on the roof and, fearing that the ceiling would collapse, initially battled the fire from outside.
But after determining that the ceiling and roof were stable, firefighters moved inside, as well as attacking the fire from the roof with hoses pumping water down a vent.
Fire officials declared the building, which sustained $115,000 in damage, a total loss. The cause is under investigation.
Josie Wade was home with her two children when she got word about the fire. Her husband went down to check, and then she got a call from her sister-in-law telling her to come down.
She said the fire has hit Anthony Wade hard, but the family is determined to rebuild and continue their legacy.
The restaurant was built in 1948, and Wilbert and Christine Wade bought it for $145,000 in October 1996, according to Yakima County tax records.
On Aug. 15, 2000, Wilbert Wade was driving back from a fishing trip with Anthony Wade and another teenager when their pickup collided with a tractor-trailer near Goldendale, bursting into flames. Wilbert Wade was ejected from the pickup and died at the scene.
The trucker pulled the teens from the burning wreckage, with Anthony being left with third-degree burns over half his body.
Christine Wade continued to run the restaurant, Josie Wade said, until 2014, when she and Anthony Wade bought the business and took over.
Anthony Wade handles the day-to-day operation, while Josie Wade works as a teacher at Terrace Heights Elementary School.
“Stop N Go is really Anthony’s baby,” she said.
Many customers, Josie Wade said, first came there as children and now are coming back with their own children.
Anthony Wade has kept his father’s menu at the restaurant, where the Texas cheeseburger with bacon and giant ice cream cones are customer favorites.
“We’re just a mom-and-pop shop just trying to raise our kids,” Josie Wade said.