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Red Mill Burgers eying old Totem House location

Posted by Geeky Swedes on January 31st, 2011

We heard the rumor over the weekend, so did the Seattle Times columnist Nancy Leson: Red Mill Burgers is eying the old Totem House location across from the Ballard Locks. Leson confirms that John Shepherd, the owner of Red Mill, and his sister/business partner, Babe, are indeed interested in the location.

“We want to save the Seattle icon,” Shepherd tells Leson. “We want to put in top-quality fish, sell halibut fish n’ chips, add five or six Red Mill signature burgers, Babe’s onion rings and restore all the totem poles and the whole building. It would be an awesome thing to do.”

So far the Shepherds have not heard from the current owner of the Totem House, which closed suddenly at the end of 2010. Red Mill Burgers currently has two other locations in Seattle. One on Phinney Ridge, one in Interbay.

You can read Leson’s entire article here. (Thanks @rainydaygal1 for the Tweet and SeattleRichardson for posting in the forum!)

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38 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Brian Cooley-Gilliom // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    yes please!

  • 2 toe tem // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Red Mill makes a decent enough burger, and I’m glad someone is taking over the property, but…

    (historic) Seattle icon? This building was a kitchy eyesore the moment it opened in 1939 to sell ‘native american artifacts’ I think this is a great opportunity to bulldoze it, rather than perpetuate our ethnocentricity.

    Let’s build something clean and modern, like some of the new attractive condominiums in Ballard.

  • 3 Mr. President // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    OMG, there is a God!

  • 4 Mr. President // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    A politically incorrect building eh?

  • 5 59thandBlake // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm


  • 6 caffinatorX // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    yay! RM does a good job and what’s more, they’re local and a destination, so they’ll do well in the spot, and I’m glad they’re moving into fish n’ chips and keeping the look/feel of the building. It’s groovy.

  • 7 toe tem // Jan 31, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    yes. I suggest they replace it with a kitchy windmill painted red.

  • 8 Mr. President // Jan 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Well I’m Dutch, therefore I’m offended.

  • 9 Nwcitizen // Jan 31, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Great news! Hope they do it.

  • 10 Anonymous // Jan 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I hope it all works out for them; wonderful idea of expanding the menu.

  • 11 Rob // Jan 31, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Any word of the fate of the local favorite: cajun cod bits?

  • 12 Alysse M // Jan 31, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    chicken verde would be great right there!

  • 13 Fors43 // Jan 31, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    “I’m Dutch therefore I’m offended” Ha! nice! Keep it as is please and keep rolling

  • 14 eric // Feb 1, 2011 at 1:35 am

    this would be great, so long as they don’t jack the pricing because of its “tourist” location.

  • 15 Sp496761 // Feb 1, 2011 at 2:33 am

    YES!!! Please, please, please. Red Mill come to Ballard!!!

  • 16 kim // Feb 1, 2011 at 4:19 am

    forget ray’s and anthony’s! it could be the new prom destination!!!!! this is (hopefully) exciting.

  • 17 Seriously? // Feb 1, 2011 at 5:01 am

    Ahh, yes. Just slap some corrugated metal on the side and add some signs that say ridiculous things like, “I’m cool, you’re cool, let’s eat here together.” Then voila! The west end of Ballard suffers a fate similar to the rest of it. If you really think the condos in Ballard are attractive, please move back to Belltown (or Bellevue) and take those awful structures with you.

  • 18 KF // Feb 1, 2011 at 5:26 am

    How about forget Ray’s and Anthony’s, period – yuck!

  • 19 Sketchygrrl // Feb 1, 2011 at 6:29 am

    That would be so awsome! I would really hate to see some moron devolper buy it and tear it down to build yet another condos with retail, bland boring box type structure that is ruining our city.

  • 20 thatguyinmagnolia // Feb 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Red Mill, Home of the Onion Ring Corsage!

  • 21 Sunset // Feb 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    The new, overpriced concrete eyesores around Ballard??

  • 22 Sunset // Feb 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    The new, overpriced concrete eyesores around Ballard??

  • 23 Anon // Feb 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    There are already many great burger places in Ballard. Do we really need a lackluster burger moving in? Granted we did lose Lunchbox Laboratory, but Red Mill is just a plain ol’, boring ol’ burger, nothing special about it.

  • 24 AntiAnon // Feb 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Have you ever had a Red Mill burger? The constant line out-the-door of people at the Phinney location disagrees…

  • 25 Anon // Feb 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Dick’s has a larger line than Red Mill. Molly Moon’s has a line larger than Red Mill. Large lines don’t mean good food. They just mean that people see a line and think there’s good food in there. Or in Dick’s case, cheap burgers that taste like heaven at 3 AM in the morning.

  • 26 anybetty // Feb 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    sorry – gotta disagree with you. I will break out my Ballardia passport and leave the village for a Red Mill burger. Great eats!

  • 27 anybetty // Feb 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Oh please keep it as is. Kitchy yes – and I still miss Twin Teepees….

  • 28 AntiAnon // Feb 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Yep, you’re right! Lets just replace Molly Moon’s with a DQ and Red Mill with McD’s. No one will know the difference right! right?! Just plain ol’, boring ol’ burgers and ice cream!

    Seriously? You are trying to contend that popularity is not indicative of quality? Like you said, people go to Dicks because its cheap and not for a quality product. Red Mill is not cheap, and a low quality product would quickly drive away customers. Obviously something other than a self-perpetuating popularity line is at play here…

  • 29 Anon // Feb 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Again, Molly Moon’s is not cheap and not that great quality, yet people line up. The only explanation is a self-perpetuating popularity line.

    And no need to bring in more fast food chains. We just need to direct people to the actual good burger places around Ballard and break their views that Red Mill is the one good burger place in all of Puget Sound.

  • 30 abb // Feb 2, 2011 at 3:06 am

    I need to be able to walk to a rootbeer milkshake.

  • 31 stupid old lady // Feb 2, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Lunch box laboratory sucked, as did Rizzo’s. If I wanted to eat wet bread with a little bit of decent meat or a whole lot of cheap meat/badly sliced with too much fat I would eat dog food. No thanks. Red Mill is a good burger, bring it.

  • 32 stupid old lady // Feb 2, 2011 at 7:40 am

    how do you know it was a “kitchy” eye sore in 1939 when it opened? Are you 80 plus years old? I can’t be sure if I trust your statement about trends during past eras.

  • 33 guest // Feb 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Dick’s closes at 2. You really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, do you?

  • 34 Anon // Feb 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Buy the time you drop $30, hitch a cab, get home, stumble in, it’s pretty darn close to 3. Your move.

  • 35 Guest // Feb 3, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Why are the no DQs in Seattle? Are the people here too good for a blizzard??

  • 36 Anon // Feb 3, 2011 at 3:24 am

    They are too obsessed with local places like Molly Moon’s that serve mediocre ice cream, but since they aren’t a devilish chain, people go there…

  • 37 Michelnate // Mar 31, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Red Mill is soooo overated. I just don’t get it. Basic, bland burger! It difinitely makes people feel cool to wait in line. The place fuckin sucks……..c’mon now

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