Neighborhood Notes – Steamboat Annie’s Provides a “Heartwarming Homecoming” for New Owners Todd and Kacey Magnusson



By Kelli Samson

van dorm sponsorA building owned by my grandparents, Jessie and Daryl Duerr, became Steamboat Annie’s back when I was a pre-teen in the 1980’s.

Picture me, pre-hair products and on the cusp of braces.

Wait. Maybe don’t.

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Steamboat Annie’s has operated as a drive-thru restaurant for nearly 30 years.

On summer afternoons, my grandparents would hand the other grandkids and I the key to their storage yard so that we could cut through it to the restaurant next door. The owner knew us and would let us come in to make our own milkshakes or soft-serve ice cream cones. It was the coolest thing ever.

Steamboat Annie’s will turn the big 30 next year, and it had been nearly as long since I’d set foot in that kitchen. Last week that changed when the friendly new owner, Kacey Magnusson, heartily welcomed me through the sliding door and got a big kick out of letting me mix my own shake once again.

Who says there are no time machines?

The building occupied by Steamboat Annie’s was built in 1960 by my grandfather, Dick Durward. It began as a chainsaw and lawnmower repair business, then added the title of saw shop, providing sharpening for the saws used in the construction of the Shelton prison. “I made a lot of deliveries back and forth to the prison,” recalls my grandmother, Jessie Duerr.

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Kylie Waltermeyer, granddaughter of owners Kacey and Todd Magnusson, makes her first milkshake. Photo credit: Kasey Magnusson.

“Dick then went on to start a Honda franchise and eventually became a successful supplier of Honda products to Thurston County,” recounts Daryl Duerr.

When Duerr took the building over in 1972, he opened a lawn mower business. Over the years, tenants have ranged from television repairmen to printers and feed suppliers.

Suzie Miller debuted Steamboat Annie’s there in 1986. When John Steadham bought the restaurant from Miller, he then opened its sister location, Tugboat Annies, on West Bay Drive in Olympia. Orpha and Loren Rife owned Steamboat Annie’s for the past twelve years and recently sold it to the Magnussons due to health reasons.

Kacey Magnusson was born and raised in the area, as was her husband, Todd. Her parents began Home Meat Service in 1960, which her eighty-three-year-old father still runs today. “My parents taught me the importance of a great work ethic,” says Kacey.

Children Lacy and Karl grew up on the Steamboat Island peninsula, too. Now the area is home to her three granddaughters, Aly (10), Kylie (8), and Aubrey (2), and the twin grandchildren who are on the way.

After retiring from her job in corporate America and selling her Vancouver-based food service company (Action West Sales and Marketing) the Magnussons returned to their community and purchased the iconic local burger joint.

“It’s good to be home,” admits Kacey.

Aly Waltermeyer and her sister Kylie both got their food handler’s permits so that they could hang out in the restaurant with their grandparents.  Photo credit: Kacey Magnusson.
Aly Waltermeyer and her sister Kylie both got their food handler’s permits so that they could hang out in the restaurant with their grandparents. Photo credit: Kacey Magnusson.

Modifications, updates, and repairs have been made to the 55-year-old space. Todd has a wish list of changes his wife Kacey says was “originally two miles long, but has been whittled down to just one.” As the building’s owner, my grandfather, Daryl Duerr, has been pitching in with his can-do attitude. He and Todd are just two ex-Marines, getting the work done with no nonsense.

The Magnussons want to give back to the community that holds so much history for them by providing quality menu items made from quality ingredients.

Steamboat Annie is a family effort. Son Karl Magnusson loves to cook. Daughter Lacy Magnusson-Waltermeyer is a nutritional therapist, and she has weighed-in on the changes to the menu. They have already increased the quality of the hamburger and dairy products served at the restaurant. They have begun providing healthier options, like pizzas and soups made from scratch, along with the availability of gluten-free items.

“Are we going to buy local? Absolutely. Are we going to challenge the farmers in the area to produce products for us? You bet we are. We’re excited about that,” says Kacey. Their plan is to use local and organic ingredients when possible.

High quality ingredients will equate to some price increases in the near future. “We have looked at every ingredient and menu item and asked ourselves how we can make each better,” says Kacey. “Our family eats at Steamboat Annie’s, and I want to be certain that anything that goes out that door is healthy and safe.”

I can say without a doubt that the French fries are better than ever. They are perfectly salted, crisp, thin, and have a slight hint of beefiness to their taste.

Dare I say it?

They are the best fries I’ve ever tasted.

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Employees Alex Josephs and Becca Denny are Capital High School graduates.

Kudos to employees Alex Josephs and Becca Denny, who clearly have the technique perfected. “They will be excellent mentors to the employees that follow,” assures Kacey. “We’d love more employees of their caliber.”

What’s next for Steamboat Annie’s? Salads and breakfasts, for certain, but also a change that remains to be decided: the new owners are currently wrestling with whether or not to rename the restaurant. “It’s a very tough decision,” admits Kacey.

I’m certain Steamboat Annie’s is on the cusp of enjoying unprecedented success, new name or no. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to my daughters making their own special memories by creating milkshakes in that kitchen. “We want children to grow up, drive by Steamboat Annie’s, and remember it as the place where they had their milkshakes. We’ve got big plans,” shares Kacey.

Thanks for making a good thing even better, Steamboat Annie’s. Here’s to your next thirty years.

Follow the changes at Steamboat Annie’s on their Facebook page.

Steamboat Annie’s

3634 Steamboat Island Rd. NW

Olympia, WA 98502


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