Richland’s iconic Bomber’s Drive Thru closes

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Li’l Firehouse coffeeshop to open second location

Customers wanting to grab their favorite burger and shake at Richland’s iconic drive-thru restaurant before it closed for good stood in long lines to get them.

High school students and other loyal customers stopped by to say goodbye to Bomber’s Drive Thru on its final day of operation on Sept. 28, said co-owner David Sligar.

“The lines have been long and out into the road quite a ways all day long,” he said.

Sligar said he expected the restaurant to run out of food before closing time at 8 p.m.

Bomber’s, located at 895 Stevens Drive near Richland High School, has been a Richland landmark since 1952. It first operated as a Tastee-Freeze and was known for its burgers, soft-serve ice cream and shakes.

Before the iconic restaurant was known as Bomber's Drive-Thru, it was the Tastee-Freeze. (Courtesy Bomber's Drive-Thru)
Before the iconic restaurant was known as Bomber’s Drive-Thru, it was the Tastee-Freeze. (Courtesy Bomber’s Drive-Thru)

Bomber’s hosted lots of high school reunions with the classes of 1955-60 over the years, sometimes serving crowds as big as 300, Sligar said.

“They used to cruise and hang out at the Tastee-Freeze,” he said.

Sligar and his sister Lisa Dahlin have owned Bomber’s Drive-Thru since 2006.

Sligar said his sister has worked hard managing day-to-day operations at the drive-thru for about 10 years.

“She has grandkids she wants to spend more time with,” he said.

The brother-sister team rebuilt the drive-thru when they bought the restaurant. Since then, they’ve tripled sales and “expanded the menu and customer service immensely,” Sligar said.

But now it’s time for another business to take its place.

Li’l Firehouse Coffee will open its second location there on Oct. 2.

Bomber’s fans will be happy to know Li’l Firehouse plans continue serving the restaurant’s popular soft-serve ice cream and shakes.

“We want to do good by Bomber’s and be the proper stand and not cut any corners or anything,” said Tyler Davis, barista at the Li’l Firehouse on 3708 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick.

Davis said he will be overseeing the afternoon shifts at the new Richland coffee shop.
Though no burgers will be served under the new ownership, Li’l Firehouse will serve its bagel sandwiches until 6 p.m., Davis said.

“They are pretty awesome. We have a bunch of people who come to our stand solely for the bagels. We get so many people coming for them that sometimes we run out of them,” he said.

The Li’l Firehouse, which opened three years ago, is owned by Chuck and Amy Sleater.

Sligar said he’s excited to see L’il Firehouse open as the owners have a good business model.

“We’re keeping the building and land and leasing it to them,” Sligar said. The lease will be for five years, he said.

Li’l Firehouse’s hours will be from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Hours are extended until 8 p.m. in the spring.

Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord has more than 21 years of journalism experience and has been editor of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business and Senior Times since July 2016. She spent more than 17 years at the Tri-City Herald and also worked at weekly newspapers in Prosser, Grandview and Yelm. She’s a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ William O. Douglas chapter and a board member of Warrior Sisterhood, a Tri-Cities Cancer Center support group. She and her husband have two young daughters and they live in West Richland.

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