Dinosaurs are big business. Literally and figuratively, as entertainment, artifact, or hamburger. Don’t believe me? Head over to Eastside Big Tom on June 22 and experience a dino-takeover of Jurassic proportions.
Anyone who’s been to Big Tom—or spent time with owner Michael Fritsch—knows it’s a dinosaur playground. With stress on the word “playground.” Fritsch and his team live to create new food and drink specials that’ll blow your mind and the grounds are strewn with pop art, toy boxes, chalk boards, pink flamingos, and oversized dino-replicas galore.
For six weeks only, starting with the June 22 release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, they will feature the Raptor Burger and Raptor Pizza featuring spicy ghost-pepper cheese and generously topped with Chef El’s locally-made Wow Sauce.
Movie tie-ins are always exciting at Big Tom. As such, the Raptor burger replaces his hugely popular Ham Solo burger. At their 2023 4th Avenue East location you’ll see iconic film props and Big Tom mascots in sports uniforms, movie costumes, bikinis and more. But it’s the dinosaurs that literally stand out.
“I’ve never grown up, I love dinosaurs,” admits Fritsch. “Kids love dinosaurs, everybody loves dinosaurs!” For the Burgrassic launch, five new oversized dinosaurs will be arriving soon. The new raptors, tyrannosaurus rex, and friends will be squeezed across the grounds and join toyboxes full of miniature plastic dinos on every table.
“The original toy box is an offshoot of my great-grandparents,” recalls Fritsch. “It’s as close as I could come to a certain box of toys from when I was young.
“My great-grandparents lived in Tenino. To a kid, that seemed like it was a million miles away and that it took about ninety billion hours to get there. What kept me calm on those long trips was the knowledge that when we got there I’d be able to get out the box of toys and play. I had epic battles, adventures, and smash-up derbies the entire afternoon, and before I knew it, it was time to put everything away and go back home.”
With this in mind, he decided to share the wealth of this simple, universal joy. “A few years back I set out to find those same toys and recreate the box,” he continues. “It took some time, but I’m fairly happy with the results. There have been some great scenes in the seating area, where I’ve seen not only kids playing with the toys, but adults with toys spread all over the table having a good time as well.
“I like to think they had a box similar to that when they were young, and that perhaps for the brief time they spend with us, it brings back the same fond memories it does for me every day when I put it outside for the kids and kids at heart.”
One restaurant toy box quickly became six and now there’s a box of goodies on each of their dozen outdoor seating tables…plus a few spares. Parents have reported that when asking the family where they want to eat dinner, it’s not uncommon to hear “the dinosaur restaurant!”
“If I get remembered for that down the road, they may not remember the name, but memories will have been made,” he says. And he is perfectly okay with that.
Memories—as much as burgers, milkshakes, and goop—are part of the family business. Michael’s father, himself part of the beloved, wacky Eastside Big Tom story, once tried to buy a Point Defiance elephant for the front yard. There was an ocelot living in the closet, up to 40 pet ferrets at a time, and two large fiberglass bison standing guard over the front porch (which may or may not have ended up on the roof when Michael and his brothers were younger).
The dinosaurs were Michael’s addition. “I’ve known the ‘Fallen Kingdom’ release date for more than 18 months,” he admits, and hopes to unveil a newly wrapped Jurassic Park car to rival his current Mystery Machine and Pizza-mobile.
Midcentury American businessman Eric Johnston said that “The dinosaur’s eloquent lesson is that if some bigness is good, an overabundance of bigness is not necessarily better.”
Had he lived to see the Jurassic Park franchise rake in $3.8 billion to date, he’d have changed his tune. Had he tasted Eastside Big Tom’s over-the-top delicious custom-creations, he’d definitely know that bigger is always better (with bacon and extra goop).
Visit Big Tom for lunch, dinner, and dessert seven days a week or place your order online for pick-up or delivery.