The History of Eastside Big Tom, by: Robert K. Eagan
In 1947 the Eagan family, Russell and Mildred, the parents, and Jim, Bob, and Tom, the kids, lived in Olympia, having moved from Tacoma after World War II. The family owned and operated what was known then as The Capitol Auto Court. The Auto Court is located directly across State Street from the Eastside Big Tom. Today it is hidden behind a wall that shields the old auto court buildings that are now apartments. The Eagan family lived in the office building of the Auto Court.
In 1947, I remember the family loading into our black 1940 Plymouth sedan and driving to Seattle. Of course there were no freeways yet so the main highway was Highway 99 which came up Fourth Ave in Olympia, out through Lacey, through Fort Lewis, South Tacoma, Tacoma, Fife, and to Seattle. Our destination was Manca’s.
Manca’s was located south of Boeing Field on the west side of Highway 99. It was a spotless white concrete block building with a sweeping drive and lawn and flowers. Manca’s was a very clean place and served excellent food. I’m not sure but my guess is that they served some kind of special sauce on the burger that my Mom used as the idea for what came to be know as “goop”. In 1947 we ate a lot of hamburgers at home while Mom tested different meats, buns, pickles and perfected the combination of ingredients in “goop.”
In the meantime, the Russell and Mildred Eagan were putting together the necessary items needed in starting a new business. They scouted locations, suppliers, buildings, kinds of paper supplies, etc. They finally secured a lease on a little piece of land across the street from the Capitol Auto Court but it had no usable building.
They found an empty building out South Bay Road which had been a barber shop. It was small but movable. That first building was probably 8 by 15 feet. The building was moved to the property at 2023 East Fourth Avenue and in a few weeks converted into the In and Out.
In and Out opened in 1948, most likely in the Spring. The first telephone number was 4852, the same number it has today. It was an immediate success. Over the years the old building was enlarged once or twice, and eventually replaced in 1969.
The first Regular Hamburger/cheeseburger was the same as it is today, with “goop” and pickles and onions. Lettuce and tomatoes weren’t added until the late 1960’s. We had hand dipped milk shakes, and bottle Pepsi, root beer, orange, and Seven Up, coffee, milk, and water to drink. I built some strong wrists and forearms hand dipping shakes in my early years. We didn’t add french fries until the ‘60’s.
As a result of the divorce of Russell and Mildred in the early ‘50s, Mildred had sole ownership of Eastside In and Out. She ran the business for many years until she sold it to my brother Jim Eagan the middle 1960’s.
Jim Eagan operated the business until he sold it to Chuck & Mary Fritsch, in 1969, who continue to own it to this day. Chuck Fritsch has been a long time friend, partner, and employee of Jim, Bob, and Tom Eagan. We cherish that relationship.
~ Robert Eagan