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It’s been vacant a year. What’s to come of DeLong’s Deluxe in Lakewood?

DeLong’s Deluxe shut off its grills for good a year ago, but the retro-style building still stands at the corner of Steilacoom Boulevard and South Bridgeport Way — but not for long.

According to a permit application posted at 8901 S. Bridgeport Way, Bridgeport Eleven LLC wants to raze the existing structure to make way for a gas station.

“We were hoping that somebody would come in and do kind of what we were doing,” said Tim DeLong, who opened the burger restaurant with his wife Marie in 2013. “But that didn’t work out.”

The couple’s close friends owned the property and financed construction of the building and drive-thru coffee stand. A few months ago, they received an offer they apparently could not refuse.

The new owner, per Washington business license data, is Jeffrey Oliphant: the developer behind the Walmart at Tacoma’s Allenmore Plaza. The city shelled out $2 million to his LLC, Allenmore Medical Investors, for a poorly timed moratorium on big-box stores that AMI claimed cost them nearly that amount in delays.

Lakewood’s public works department is reviewing the site design and impact on stormwater and traffic, according to Andrea Bell, a City of Lakewood planner. She could not provide a firm time line for corrections or approvals.

She said the city received three public comments — mostly regarding traffic congestion and pedestrian safety — during a two-week period in December that ended on Christmas Eve.

Neither the contact on the public notice, Barghausen Consulting Engineers, nor for Bridgeport Eleven responded to a request for comment.

BYGONE BURGER

Despite its retro vibes, the couple designed and constructed their restaurant from the ground up after tearing down a small white house that previously sat on the property.

Marie DeLong wrangled memories of her teenage stint at a Dairy Queen to build “a gorgeous kitchen” that churned out all-chuck beef burgers and real beef hot dogs, plus sundaes and shakes, fries and onion rings.

“That was a dream of ours to run a food business,” she said. “We never dreamed it would ever, ever happen — and it did, and it was great. It was wonderful.”

But, she conceded, “You hit a point where you’re in your 60s and it’s time to move on.”

Now she does occasional bookkeeping, while he retains his real estate license. A future food project is not out of the question, they told The News Tribune.

Collectively with their friends, the property owners, and their kids — the oldest of whom is 34 — the DeLongs closed for the season in late 2018 only to announce a permanent shutter a few months later.

“We would have loved to see our thing continue,” said Marie DeLong, and for a few months, they tried to find a taker.

“I’ve done my grieving — we all did. It was a very hard decision, but we’ve all decided we knew it was really best.”

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019. She spent the past decade immersed in the culinary scene of Chicago and, for a time, covered the global chocolate and snacks industries. An avid home cook and beer/cocktail pro, she now explores all things edible and sippable throughout Pierce County. Reach her also at @kriscarasher on Twitter.
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