Steakburger razed as project ramps up

Redeveloped stretch of Highway 99 will include a Panera Bread restaurant

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Steakburger took its last food order May 29, ending a final burst of popularity that’s common when a long-loved but faded institution approaches its demise. This week, with the Golf-O-Rama miniature golf course and outbuildings already gone, the big machines got to the heart of the matter and leveled the restaurant that called 7120 N.E. Highway 99 its address for more than half a century.

Steakburger, which served generations of Vancouverites, was removed to make room for a $5 million redevelopment featuring four buildings, including two drive-through restaurants. The county issued permits for the project on Monday, said Mike Jenkins, of Vancouver-based MAJ Development Corp., the project developer.

“We’re in full construction mode,” Jenkins said.

Construction will begin in August on a Panera Bread location, which should be ready for a November opening, Jenkins said. The St. Louis, Mo.-based chain, which has more than 1,700 bakery cafes in the U.S. and Canada, will build a prototype drive-through restaurant. Jenkins said. The company has one location in Vancouver, at 915 S.E. 164th Ave., and a nearby Portland location at Jantzen Beach.

Jenkins wouldn’t disclose the name of the second restaurant. Two other buildings, with 4,000 and 5,000 feet, will house medical providers, and the fourth building is likely to be a bank, he said. The project should be completed in next year’s first quarter, Jenkins said.

As part of the site’s transformation, the adjacent McDonald’s restaurant will be replaced with a new restaurant on an expanded site that will include some of the former Steakburger property. And Fred Meyer is planning to open a fueling station on the site of what is now a Salvation Army thrift store at 7400 N.E. Highway 99.

There is some good news for those who feel a need for nostalgia in the face of the latest change to their community. Tina Condon, daughter of longtime Steakburger owners Bob and Merilyn Condon, is making plans to open a mobile food trailer called Steakburger On the Go.

Condon, the restaurant’s manager for 20 years, has said she hopes to have the cart out on the street in August.