Bernie & Boys, A North Burien Fixture, Will Be Closing After 16 Years

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by Ralph Nichols

Tom Salle’s repeated comment to customers at his meat counter says it all.

So does a message posted on printer paper around the store.

Bernie and Boys, a local fixture in Burien and Tukwila since 1937, which has been located at 11225 1st Ave. S. for the last 16 years, is going out of business.

When asked for some cuts of meat, Tom tells his customers, “I’m out” – or running out – “of the product.” It won’t be resupplied.

The 8½ x 11 notices inform shoppers:

“We will no longer be offering a weekly ad and we will not be able to honor the coupon book that was mailed to some of our customers. Thank you for shopping at Bernie and Boys.”

Tom confirmed the pending closure to The B-Town Blog on Friday, Feb. 4. They are selling and not restocking perishables.

And a 20 percent off sale on the rest of the store’s merchandise will begin Monday (Feb. 7).

The slumping economy is a major culprit, and “there’s not enough business at this site for a building this size,” Tom said.

Their electrical bill alone was $7,000-$9,000 a month, “so we installed more efficient lighting. Then the power rates went up.”

After closing this location, Tom Salle said "we want to open a meat shop" as part of a specialty store.

And when neighboring public housing was closed, they lost 200 families who were customers. “They didn’t have a lot of money but it was steady money,” he noted.

Now Bernie and Boys has also lost its lease because the landlord put the property up for sale.

“It’s sad,” Tom continued. “We have such a good corps of customers. We’re going to miss them, but they’re really going to miss us.”

In addition to providing true neighborhood service for customers over the decades, Bernie and Boys also supported the community, including the annual Classy Chassis auto show, fundraisers at Kennedy and Evergreen high schools, and special events in the Italian community.

But this family business will continue. Tom and his brother Joe will downsize at a new – as yet undetermined – location.

“We want to open a meat shop” as part of a specialty shop, he said. They don’t know what yet. “It depends on our location and the size of the building.” And they’re not sure if they will locate within the Highline area.

Home delivery or internet sales are two possibilities, and Joe does a lot of catering.

Their father, Bernardo “Bernie” Salle, the original “Live Butcher,” died in 2004. His Italian immigrant parents, Nunzio and Carmella Salle, opened Salle’s Grocery at 13003 Pacific Highway S. in 1937.

In 1995, the family opened Bernie and Boys in north Burien, and closed the original store five years later.

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6 Responses to “Bernie & Boys, A North Burien Fixture, Will Be Closing After 16 Years”
  1. Pam F. says:

    When I was in grade school, the old Salle’s on highway 99 used to deliver groceries to our home in Riverton. My mom could pick up the phone and place her order and it was delivered and carried into the house. Now that was service!
    Everyone misses Salle’s and Bernie. Now the communicy will miss Bernie and Boys for all of the reason stated in the story, and more.

    But I am very glad to hear they will relocate somewhere else , hopefully in our larger community. They are a great family with a dedicated and long history in our community–one of the last reamining such institutions.

    Thank you for all of your family’s years of serving the community in so many ways– you are appreciated!

  2. Greg Duff says:

    I live just a few blocks from Bernies. I love the convenience of the store. The meat counter carries North Dakota Sausage which is heavenly. They will be missed in our neighborhood. I wish Tom and Joe all the best and I hope your new smaller store will be a success. Wherever you locate, I will still be standing at your meat counting buying my favorite sausage. Good Luck

  3. Ed Dacy says:

    I am glad the meat department wil continue. I do wish the family the best in their new location and I hope the blog will let us know when and where they will open their shop

  4. Jim G says:

    I was heartsick when I heard of this last week. Joe and Tom are great people. They represent what is best about locally owned businesses. I want to thank them for all they and their family have done for this community for decades. And I want to thank them for their staunch support of those of us in public safety – police and fire. Their yearly community gathering to remember our fallen Deputy Steve Cox is yet another example of the stand-up people they are. I look forward to their next business venture.
    Good luck and Godspeed.

  5. Mike O says:

    We moved here from West Seattle in 93, and the store was a bit run down. We didn’t use it much. The Salles came in and made it a great store. We have shopped there ever since. We will miss them. It will be a tremendous loss to the community.

  6. Mark says:

    okay old timers, can you help me with the timeline on the old Bernie and Boys in Buriend, this store orginally opened as a Safeway store, can you tell me what year it opened and what year it closed. This store has the classic “Marina” architecture so it was built sometime in the 1960s. Thanks

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