After 68 years in business, Harold’s Burger Bar is set to close at the end of December.
Since Jan. 1, 1985, Winona “Noni” Adolphsen has owned and operated the Centralia staple. She isn’t entirely sure about the origins of Harold’s Burger Bar, but has pieced it together over the years through stories and rumors. While she doesn’t know the original owner’s last name, his first name actually was Harold. She also knows the building was constructed in either 1946 or 1947.
Adolphsen said what people remember about Harold’s Burger Bar, however, is the quality of food.
“We have had people that have Googled us from Seattle to Portland and go ‘This came up the best burger in this area,’” Adolphsen said. “... They come and they will drive up and say ‘You’re really out of the way.’ Then they eat the burger and they come back and say ‘Wow.’ Nine out of 10 will come back out. We had one guy come back out and throw a $20 tip in there.”
While Adolphsen has held various jobs throughout her life, she was originally a Harold’s Burger Bar employee in high school.
All three of Adolphsen’s children worked at the burger bar, as well as one of her granddaughters. Trish Bissett, one of the employees, has worked at Harold’s Burger Bar for 22 years. She said her children have also worked at Harold’s Burger Bar at various times.
“I’m devastated she’s closing,” Bissett said. “... I’ve made some very, very good friends.”
Adolphsen and Bisset said they are best friends. The two originally met through Harold’s Burger Bar, where Adolphsen used to also sell cigarettes. One day, the two took a smoke break together. Adolphsen told Bissett she was about to get married and wanted a week off for her honeymoon. That’s when she hired Bissett to cover for her.
“Our lives have intertwined so dramatically,” Adolphsen said. Then she added, “Our social life is gonna go to hell.”
Adolphsen hasn’t listed the business yet, but has already talked to a couple realtors.
“I’ve been here 33 years, I’ve raised three kids, three grandkids and now I’m into great-grandmotherhood,” Adolphsen said. “I think it’s time to sit back and enjoy my grandkids. … It’s getting harder and harder to compete with the Burgervilles, the Burger Kings, the McDonald’s and their $4, and $5 menus and specials. Even though we put out a much more quality product, people will drive up and look at that and say ‘I’m not paying that.’ And finding someone to take it over — people don’t want to work as hard as I do. I work probably 60-80 hours a week.”
Adolphsen’s last day is New Year’s Eve, and she has no plans to close early.
“We will be open as long as necessary,” Adolphsen said. “Usually we close early on New Year’s Eve, but I’ll be here as long as they need me.”