José Enciso, drive-in proprietor, receives top honor

May 24, 2011

José Enciso Sr., longtime Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in proprietor, received dual awards May 17, including the community’s highest honor.

José Enciso, owner of the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, smiles while audience members applaud as he is inducted into the Issaquah Hall of Fame during the annual Issaquah Community Awards banquet. By Greg Farrar

The city inducted Enciso into the Issaquah Hall of Fame during the 32nd annual Community Awards Luncheon. The man serving behemoth burgers and enormous root beer floats along Northeast Gilman Boulevard also received the Business Person of the Year honor.

Enciso said he was told about being nominated for Business Person of the Year, and that was why he had to attend the luncheon. But the Hall of Fame honor surprised him.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was great.”

Enciso joins a diverse and rarified group in the Issaquah Hall of Fame. Past inductees include environmentalist Ruth Kees, Salmon Days Festival organizer Robin Kelley and, last year, retired City Administrator Leon Kos.

Enciso bought the iconic drive-in more than a decade ago. Nowadays, the restaurant is a mecca for spring and summer car shows.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders also named Tom Sessions as Citizen of the Year, another leading honor. Councilman Fred Butler received the Volunteer of the Year honor.

The lunchtime ceremony at the Holiday Inn attracted a who’s who of Issaquah — City Council members, Issaquah School District administrators, business leaders and community activists.

José Enciso, drive-in proprietor, receives top community honor

May 19, 2011

José Enciso, owner of the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, smiles as audience members applaud as he is inducted into the Issaquah Hall of Fame during the annual Issaquah Community Awards. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 12:30 p.m. May 19, 2011

José Enciso Sr., longtime Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in proprietor, received dual awards Tuesday, including the community’s highest honor.

The city inducted Enciso into the Issaquah Hall of Fame during the 32nd annual Community Awards Luncheon. The man serving behemoth burgers and enormous root beer floats along Northeast Gilman Boulevard also received the Business Person of the Year honor.

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Off the Press

April 26, 2011

Everybody has a story. People may think they don’t, but they do. Maybe that grouchy old man who lives on the corner fought in World War II and now he can’t get close to people because he fears he will lose them.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Maybe that woman you see from time to time in the grocery store used to be a secret agent for the CIA.

Maybe that young guy down the street has been flying planes since he was 5 years old.

Maybe that couple who owns your favorite restaurant loves Elvis so much that they go to Graceland every year to celebrate The King’s birthday.

After more than two decades in the news business, I truly believe everybody has a story. You might have to coax out of someone that she collects thimbles and has more than 1,000 of them. You might have to chat a while with someone to learn that he met Marilyn Monroe.

But there is something unique and interesting about every person on the planet.

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Diners can sample bargains during restaurant month

March 8, 2011

Eateries encourage diners to sample special offers and menu items during Issaquah Restaurant Month.

The inaugural dine-out event kicked off March 1, as more than 20 restaurants rolled out discounts and other treats for diners. Organizers said the monthlong celebration is meant to attract attention to local restaurants, and encourage residents to try fresh flavors.

The participating restaurants include longtime establishments and newcomers. Diners interested in checking out Issaquah restaurants during the event can nosh on barbecue and pizza one day, and nachos and lo mein the next.

“Each restaurant will offer a lunch and/or dinner prix fixe menu that represents the best of what that restaurant has to offer,” Diane Symms, Lombardi’s Italian Restaurants president and CEO, said in a release. “This is not a discount but rather an offer of quality and value for the community.”

Issaquah Restaurant Month is similar to events staged in Seattle and other major cities nationwide. The year-old Issaquah Restaurant Coalition, a trade group, coordinated and promoted the celebration.

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Triple XXX car show schedule now includes campers

March 8, 2011

The Vintage Travel Trailer & Motor Home Camp Out show April 3 is sure to feature such classic campers as this one. Contributed

Jose Enciso Sr. really loves his job. As owner of the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, he gets to host more classic car shows than anywhere else in the state — 42 this year alone.

As owner of a sizable collection of his own classic hot rods, Enciso still gets a childlike sparkle in his eye when asked about his latest acquisition that isn’t even a car — a 1947 Aeroflite Travel Trailer.

Enciso gets to share his find, one of only 25 ever made, with other collectors from the travel trailer community at one of the XXX’s four newest shows for 2011 — the Vintage Travel Trailer & Motor Home Camp Out on April 3.

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Uncover the dark side of Issaquah

February 15, 2011

Vehicles streak through the darkness in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The tree-lined suburb of today evolved from a frontier town of sinister secrets

Welcome to Issaquah!

On your left, you’ll see the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In!

On your right, you’ll find the Village Theatre!

Oh look, over there is the beloved Issaquah Salmon Hatchery!

A typical tour of town might go something like that, detailing the proud past of a historic city.

What about the strange, seedy and sinister history of this former frontier town? What about the ominous undertones? Not many tours take you down the alleys of the city or expose what had been its underbelly.

But this one does, and it will tell you about some of the most notable incidents that occurred here in the decades after white settlers arrived in the 1850s. Murders. Bombings. Fires. Explosions. Abductions. Plus, plenty of other mayhem.

Get in your DeLorean and prepare to tickle your morbid curiosity, because we’re headed straight to the past and into the dark side of Issaquah.

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Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry reflects on years of service

February 1, 2011

Maureen McCarry once used a clear voice to advocate for Issaquah residents.

But amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, muted the voice and prompted the former city councilwoman to resign in late December.

Maureen McCarry celebrates early City Council returns at an election night party at the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in in 2005. By Greg Farrar

The decision did not come easily to McCarry, a former Harborview Medical Center executive and Squak Mountain resident. Less than a year into a four-year term, she had planned to continue as a voice for environmental preservation, economic development and human services issues.

Instead, McCarry received the ALS diagnosis in October, and the rapid progression of the neurodegenerative disease has left McCarry unable to drive and speak.

After a Dec. 20 meeting, council members offered a poignant and tear-slicked send-off to McCarry.

“I regretted, of course, having to leave so early in my term and so would have loved to have served through exciting upcoming projects,” she wrote last week in response to e-mailed questions. “Without my voice, it was hard to ‘voice’ my great appreciation to the citizens of Issaquah and the council for their support during this time — and for the kindness and appreciation, and humanity, that were demonstrated to me as I left the council.”

Though McCarry is no longer a public official — and in spite of her illness — she said she plans to remain involved in municipal issues.

“I have worked hard for the betterment of our community. I will remain an active citizen and adviser when called upon,” she wrote. “At this time, I feel fulfillment as I see this council move forward and extol the competence of those who have stepped forward to take my place to continue to grow and improve Issaquah.”

Some residents also reached out to McCarry for input as they consider applying for her former position. The council is expected to appoint a successor to the Position 5 seat in March.

McCarry urged the next council member to delve deep into issues brought to the council for decisions.

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Hot rodders steer Christmas cheer to food bank

December 14, 2010

Kim Ortego, assistant to the director at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, holds up Saucer Scramble and shows the donated toys that filled an entire truck. Contributed

If the holidays are all about community spirit, then the Sunset Highway Cruisers have earned an A-plus in spreading holiday cheer. For the 10th consecutive year, the cruisers have pulled off a successful toy drive, collecting at least $6,000 worth of toys, cash and checks for the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

Sunset Highway Cruisers President Marv Nielsen spearheaded the event, and thanked the approximate 250 drivers who had driven near and far, checks and toys in tow, for the Jingle Bell Cruz car show Dec. 5.

An Issaquah resident since 1977, Nielsen’s aqua 1937 Ford Coupe may be a familiar site to many, especially if they frequent car shows at the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in. He has coordinated shows at the Triple XXX for 15 years, and might as well have engine oil running through his veins.

“I’ve always grown up interested in cars,” Nielsen said. “I had a model A at age 15, and I had a lifelong fascination of cars and how to improve them.”

Usually, the cruisers donate the proceeds from their shows to Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options, better known as LEO, which helps Nielsen’s developmentally disabled daughter in her day-to-day life. When the cruisers agreed to host a toy drive, they decided to stay local and donate to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

“Every year it’s gotten bigger and better and better,” Nielsen said. “This year was astronomical. We had 160 cars and hot rods at the Triple XXX.”

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Who’s News

September 14, 2010

Thundering Angels delivers for the food bank

Kim Ortega and Bill Werner

Bill Werner, of the Thundering Angels Motorcycle Club, presented a check for $500 to Kim Ortega, of the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Aug. 30.

The check was from profits made by the club in July during its fourth annual Burgers, Bikes and Babes Motorcycle Rally at the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in and also from the Poker Run the day before the rally. Thundering Angels is a local motorcycle club. About 1,800 motorcyclists attended the family friendly event this year, about 10 percent more than last year. Read more

Dick’s Drive-In asks residents to pick restaurant location

September 7, 2010

Sure, Issaquah has a Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, but someday soon the city could host another iconic burger joint: Dick’s Drive-In.

The longtime Seattle chain announced plans last week to open a sixth location in the Greater Seattle metropolitan area. The location hinges on votes cast at www.dicksdrivein.com. The poll closes Sept. 30.

Votes could be a deciding factor as the 57-year-old chain picks a location.

The contest divvies up Greater Seattle into three regions. The east region includes Issaquah, Bellevue, Bothell, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond and Sammamish.

Dick’s has not opened a restaurant since the Queen Anne location 36 years ago. The chain includes the original restaurant in Wallingford, plus outposts in Capitol Hill, Crown Hill and Lake City.

“We are very excited to make this historic expansion after 36 years,” Jim Spady — vice president of Dick’s Drive-Ins and son of co-founder and namesake, Dick Spady — said in a news release. “And we want to involve our customers and the community, asking everyone to help us find the best location for our next restaurant.”

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