Over the past few months, I’ve been asked a lot if I knew what might happen to Lunchbox Laboratory in light of the tragic death of its founder, Scott Simpson, in March. I did not. So I thought it was time to check in.
The truth is, even before the loss of Simpson, the hamburger joint’s future never felt fully secure. From the moment it opened at its original Ballard location, Lunchbox enjoyed the devotion of a carnivorous customer base that sung its praises at a fever pitch. But as popular as it was, many derided the restaurant for unpredictable hours, inconsistent food, and unsanitary conditions. Since the move to South Lake Union, management has been working to maintain regular hours, a more consistent product, and clean conditions, says John Schmidt. Schmidt and his partners took over ownership and management at the time of the relocation.
“There have been numerous changes implemented to strengthen what was…a struggling business model,” says Schmidt, owner of Neighborhood Grills. “The changes are big and small, but all in the name of providing the best gourmet burgers and hand-dipped shakes in the nation.”
And despite the loss of Simpson and the diminished involvement of cofounder Allegra Waggener (now working “in an advisory role” for the restaurant), Schmidt says he and his partners expect Lunchbox “to be around for many years to come.”
While the focus for the moment is on “refining the overall experience of our guest,” future expansion shouldn’t be ruled out. As Schmidt told the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson back in December: “Growth is what we’re about.”