Opening Dispatch

Old 76 Brings a Simple, Familial Burger Concept to Mercer Island

The Homegrown owners opened the restaurant in an old gas station.

By Stefan Milne August 8, 2019

A burger, fries, and a shake—about half the menu at Old 76. 

Brad Gillis grew up on Mercer Island and craved a spot where everyone—families, high school students—could go grab a simple meal. He felt that given the 25,000 or so people on the island, it had a dearth of good casual dining options.

Old 76 was once a gas station. Get it? Good. 

He’s since founded Homegrown—the string of consciously-sourced sandwich and salad shops that speckle the city—with Ben Friedman. Now the chain, which runs nine restaurants here (and a couple in the Bay Area), is starting to “branch out,” says Gillis. He wasn’t ready to share other restaurant concepts they have in the hopper, but their first move outside the Homegrown model is Old 76, a Mercer Island burger restaurant that they’ve set up in a former gas station at 2411 76th Avenue SE. The former pump awning now covers some outdoor tables. It’s open Sunday through Thursday 11am–8pm and Friday and Saturday 11am–10pm. 

The menu at Old 76 looks a lot like Seattle’s Great State Burger. A 76 Burger with grass-fed and grass-finished beef comes with crispy onions, pickles, cheddar, sauce, organic lettuce and tomato, and a toasted bun; it runs $7.95. You can also get a classic burger, a grilled cheese, plant-based burger, vegan and gluten-free burger. There are fries, a salad with lettuces from Homegrown’s Woodinville organic farm, milkshakes, beer, cider, and that’s about it. “It’s a super simple concept focused on providing a pretty limited menu,” Gillis says, “but executing everything really well.”

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