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For Todd Freeman, supporting community and sports teams are top priorities in Clackamas County. Plans are to open his Tigard venue in April.

COURTESY PHOTO: TODD FREEMAN - Todd Freeman, shown here in his younger days after he purchased Mikes Drive-In, said he looked at several properties before deciding a Tigard location would work out the best. Todd Freeman, owner of Mike's Drive-In, wants to make it clear that most any restaurant can make a decent burger.

What many can't do — or don't — is to become engaged with the community.

With that in mind, Freeman is opening his first iconic drive-in in Washington County, on the corner of Southwest Pacific Highway and 74nd Avenue in Tigard. Construction has already begun at the location that once housed a Subway restaurant.

Freeman, who hopes to open the drive-in by mid- to late-April, said his overarching goal is to make sure the restaurant becomes involved in the community, he said.

"We're not coming into an area just to do business, to be competition to anybody else," he said. "We want to come in and join them and want to do what we can to be a community member."

And Freeman should know a little bit about that.

Born and raised in Milwaukie, Freeman began working at the Mike's Drive-In there while attending Milwaukie High School in 1976. He liked the place, known for its burgers, shakes and specialty sandwiches, so much that he purchased it in 1983, following the death of founder Mike Martin.

Mike's Drive-In currently has restaurants in Milwaukie and Oregon City. A third location in Sellwood closed its doors in 2016 after more than three decades in business.

"You know, we looked at a lot of different locations," said Freeman. "We just felt like Tigard was a pretty good area. I'm not gonna lie, we looked at four or five different areas, and it's possible that there could be another one or two coming."

However, he said those other areas wouldn't be in Washington County.COURTESY PHOTO: MIKES DRIVE-IN - Mikes Drive-In burgers have been sought after for decades.

As far as inside seating goes for the new site, Freeman said the new restaurant will be comparable to the Oregon City location, which was gutted and rebuilt four years ago and has space for about 50 customers. Also, the Tigard location will have picnic tables outside in the back and customers will be able to order from outside windows as well.

With hopes for that spring opening, Freeman said his restaurant is in the same situation as many restaurants and retailers throughout the country. Because of the global supply chain shortage, equipment is on back order, he said.

Mike's Drive-Ins also sponsors numerous Little League teams. Freeman said back in the day when he started giving out those free ice cream cones, it was only for those who won.COURTESY PHOTO: MIKES DRIVE-IN - Hopes are to have the new Tigard Mikes Drive-In up and running by mid to late April.

Having time to rethink that over the years, Freeman said it's both for the winners and the losers as well, adding, "When does that kid need that ice cream cone most? When they lose and they're down. Why am I contributing to 'if you lose, you don't get rewarded?'"

He said his restaurants are also very generous to sports teams.

"We tell coaches all the time, 'Hey, if your kids are in uniform, bring the kids in for a free ice cream cone afterwards,'" Freeman said. "We don't care if we sponsor the team or not."


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