By Christi Baron
It was February 2008 and I was at Forkestra, Forks Community orchestra, practice, when our drummer Chiggers Stokes said he no longer wished to write his column, West End Neighbor, for the Peninsula Daily News, and would anybody like to take over …well … hearing nobody else step up and volunteer I said, “I will do it.”
Why I did that I don’t know, because I had no experience, but thanks to that spur-of-the-moment decision …I have my job here today at the Forks Forum … after writing that twice a month column for about 5 years I was offered the job here at my hometown paper.
My very first column was about Sully’s 50th anniversary …I have updated it a bit… thirteen years later Sully’s is still going strong …even with COVID-19 restrictions they have managed to keep going and will celebrate yet another anniversary on Feb. 23. Happy 63rd!
Fast Food …63 years in the making …
Ray Kroc opened the first franchised McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955. Three years later Matt Sullivan opened “Sully’s” in Forks, Washington. Now, what could these businesses have in common? Two things … hamburgers and they are both still in business today.
It was 1958 when Matt Sullivan, a weight control officer with the State Patrol, decided to open of all things a donut shop on the south end of Forks. Arriving from their former home in Montesano to help in the new business was Matt’s wife Lorraine their children Laurel, Sharon, Kathy, Patricia, Roberta and Lorraine’s mother Laura.
It wasn’t long before the menu was expanded to add pre-made sandwiches and soon after the Sully’s burger was born. Adding fries, milkshakes, and ice cream cones Sully’s began to outgrow their very small establishment which contained a cooking area and a dining room containing 3 small tables. In 1967 they moved to their current location at 220 N. Forks Ave. and have expanded with several remodels over the years.
Since the Sullivans had five daughters they had a built-in workforce. But they did hire a large number of teenagers to fill the gap and in the summer of 1973, my best friend Lori Kelso and I were two of those hired. In our small town with limited job opportunities, we were thrilled to have the job.
It was about that same time that Bruce Guckenberg, having married Patricia (Triss) Sullivan, became the manager. I asked him how many people would he guess Sully’s had employed the last 50 years and he said he couldn’t even come close to guessing but it was a lot, a list that has been compiled so far tallies over 450 names.
Although Bruce did not know the exact number of employees he has done a rough calculation on how many hamburgers have been sold …and that number is 2.7 million. (Now add another 13 years’ worth?)
A former Forks resident who moved to Colorado once told me on a return visit to Forks that she missed many things since she had moved away. They included the beauty of the ocean beaches, the lush green forests, and Sully’s onion rings.
Matt and Lorraine retired in 1982 but as in the beginning, family is a strong factor in the continued success of the business. Daughters and now grandchildren continue to provide Forks with its desire for a hamburger.
Over the years they have changed and added to their menu and even have their specialty burgers like the Tall Timber, Spartan Burger, the rainy day burger (costs less if it’s raining) and of course the Bella burger in honor of “Twilight”.
After 63 years Sully’s continues to be a vital part of our Forks economy and supporter of our schools and local events.
So Happy Birthday Sully’s!