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