The establishment of the brand new Adna Burger Bar was a sight to behold, according to owners Cindy and Jim Smith.
Selling four kinds of burgers and baskets of fries to a line of 30 to 40 customers was chaos, but the Smiths were ready: they had prepared 400 pounds of hamburger in the days before opening.
Their opening day success reaffirmed them in their purpose.
“I've been in this town for 64 years and as long as I can remember everyone has always wanted a burger bar or a cafe or something,” Jim said.
Jim spent the first part of his childhood living in Napavine until moving to Adna Elementary in the fifth grade. Cindy, whose mother had also graduated from Adna High School, was in Jim’s graduating class.
Their families had raised them in Adna, and they wanted the same sense of community for their children, so they stuck around. Their grandchildren are yet another generation from the family to attend the Adna School District.
“We like it here. Good people around here,” said Jim.
In 2002, the Smiths opened a smokehouse on Ceres Hill called “Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse.” There, they processed wild game into pepperoni, jerky, sausage, ground meat and lunch meat, and ran a catering service.
The only problem with their business model: it was too successful for their set-up. With customers showing up at their actual front door, having a work-life balance was a challenge. They needed a storefront. And two weeks before Christmas in 2019, the former owners of the Adna Grocery store called Jim.
The Smiths purchased the store and reopened on Jan. 13, 2020. Since then, Jim estimates 90% of store customers purchase pepperoni, jerky or sausage. Just during their first year, he said, they sold over 18,000 pounds of sausage. The Smiths’ ultimate goal, besides selling smokehouse products, is to maintain a local focus while creating a hub of activity for Adna residents. The store’s shelves feature Pacific Northwest Cookie Company cookies, Chehalis Mints, Maughan family honey and many other local products. On Saturday, June 5, the parking lot of Adna Grocery will host a Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We grew up in this town so we knew how this store was always a little country store. And that’s the way Julie Latimer (the former owner) had it, or even the past owners before Julie,” said Cindy. “We wanted it to stay a little country store. And we were looking for an outlet for our smoked products anyhow, so everything kind of worked good together.”
The addition of the Burger Bar just made sense to the two experienced cooks.
As they figure out the restaurant business, they intend to add to their menu. But what they have to start still has something for everyone. The Burger Bar serves jalapeno burgers and regular burgers, onion rings, regular fries and garlic fries, corn dogs and hot dogs. After serving four kinds of burgers on opening day, they quickly realized they were pushing the limits of what their kitchen could produce, so they scaled back to two. Cindy aims to eventually serve a rotating list of specials.
The beef served at the Adna Burger Bar is never frozen. The Smiths buy beef by the pallet and grind it themselves before serving it fresh. While this process is much more involved than buying frozen, pre-ground meat, they believe the extra time spent is what makes their burgers special.
The Smiths see their expansion as a way of giving back to the community that makes their business possible.
“We try to work hard, but if it wasn’t for the community, that door wouldn’t keep opening and closing,” Jim said.
Adna Burger Bar Hours
Monday through Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Adna Grocery Store Hours:
Monday through Saturday: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.