By Katie Hurley
If you ask people in Thurston County where they think the best place is for burgers, and you’re likely to get a handful of different answers. And one of those answers will almost certainly be Norma’s, a fixture in Lacey since 1993.
The original Norma’s Burger Hut was opened by Phil and Norma Swenson at 7210 Martin Way in the Tanglewild area. And while the restaurant was technically named after Norma, it was also reminiscent of the legendary Norm’s Burger Stand that operated at the intersection of Marvin Road and Martin Way from 1965 to 1985.
The Swensons served up burgers, fries and shakes at Norma’s until they sold the restaurant to Craig Forster and Pete Van Lierop in 1997. Van Lierop soon left the burger business, and Forster continued to operate Norma’s, adding a Nisqually location in 2005 when the old Tiny’s Burger House went up for sale. Ironically, Forster later learned that “Tiny” was actually the daughter of Norm from Norm’s Burger Stand!
After purchasing Tiny’s, Forster remodeled the restaurant and changed the name to Normas @ I-5. Larger than Norma’s Burger Hut, Norma’s @ I-5 offers all of the same burgers, fries and shakes, but also has a few more entrees and a full breakfast menu that isn’t available at Norma’s Burger Hut. The I-5 location offers the full breakfast menu all day, and smoked prime rib dinners on Friday and Saturday nights.
Known especially for their burgers and shakes, not just for their flavor but also for the extensive list of options. The burger menu features 15 different burgers, including a vegetarian black bean burner, with toppings such as blue cheese and bacon, mushrooms and Swiss cheese, and “The Duke” John Wayne Burger topped with bacon, ham, jalapenos, pineapple, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, secret sauce and mustard. Additional burgers on a special menu include the Greek Burger and the Bacon Jam Burger.
Among the 43 milkshake flavors are the usual strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, but also B-52, tiramisu, s’mores and caramel pecan.
The original Norma’s Burger Hut is located at 7210 Martin Way East and Norma’s @ I-5 is at 10322 Martin Way East. Visit their website.