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Award-winning restaurant in Hillsboro reaches half-a-million burgers sold after being opened less than 10 years.

STAFF PHOTO: JANAE EASLON - Nancy Newman Hummel and Terry Hummel have owned Cruise In Country Diner in Hillsboro since 2009. Nancy Newman Hummel and Terry Hummel lived only a quarter-mile from each other without knowing it.

When the two met in 2003, it was their love of classic cars that brought them together, and it's what led them to open the Cruise In Country Diner in 2009.

"My real estate office (where I worked) dared me to put my photo on Match.com and I stood behind my '57 Chevrolet there and he happened to see it," Newman Hummel said.

The couple have taken that love of cars to Cruise In, 9785 S.W. River Road in Hillsboro's countryside, transforming the former Twin Oaks Tavern, a building reaching back to the 1930s.

Now, almost 10 years in business, the roadside attraction is celebrating half-a-million burgers sold after this past week.

To celebrate, the couple said they will buy balloons and announce a winner to their competition they've held for weeks, where they asked customers to fill out a guessing sheet on what day they plan to sell the 500,000th burger and how many miles does half-a-million burgers stretch.

The couple had flipped burgers for charity and thought they would take a crack at owning a restaurant before retirement.

"If we are going to do a local burger joint, we wanted to contact local farmers to supply us with grass-fed beef," Hummel said. "We wanted a pristine menu and, boy, we worked hard. Six months after working, we finally found chicken without hormones and grass-fed beef."

Cruise In is a true blast from the past, with walls covered in classic car memorabilia, and a sign reading, "We do not have WiFi. Talk to each other, pretend it's 1965."

The logo for the restaurant, Newman Hummel's 1957 Chevrolet, is prominently displayed.

The menu hosts more than a dozen types of burgers, including not only beef, but fish, alpaca and buffalo. Each burger comes with bottomless fries.

Gluten-free, nitrate-free and organic products are featured among the list of ingredients bought primarily in Oregon.

"This is a unique little diner," Hummel said. ""We have a passion for health. People are very conscious when eating out."

The burgers are not seasoned to avoid salt and Cruise In Country Diner only serves meat that is hormone-free, and buys locally whenever possible, Newman Hummel said.

She is involved in the kitchen every day, alongside the diner's staff of about 20 people, including many college students from Portland Community College and Pacific University.

STAFF PHOTO: JANAE EASLON - Cruise In Country Diner on River Road in Hillsboro hangs car club memorabilia and feels like a step back in time. The diner sits on a major intersection of River and Farmington roads and sees new faces every day, Hummel said.

"When we first thought about this location, we found out about 7,000 cars drove by nine years ago," he said. "Now, about 11,000 people pass this intersection daily."

Hummel said the Hillsboro community has been very supportive of the restaurant.

Classic car clubs' meet at Cruise In by every year to eat, and bring gifts for the couple like license plates and photos of their cars.

Each burger is named after a classic car, Hummel said, like the Barracuda — a fish burger.

The couple themselves are involved Rose City Classics, a classic car club with members who focus on restoration and preservation of the '55-'56-'57 Chevrolet.

In the future, the couple hopes to sell the business, retire and travel by taking their motor home out on the road, Hummel said.

Between the two of them, the couple have 14 grandchildren and would love to visit with them.

"We want to take on cross country," Newman Hummel added.

Cruise In is opened five days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.



By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
971-762-1166
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