Location: 2023 4th Ave E
Transportation, Popular Culture

eastside big tomOriginal “In and Out” stand at this location, around 1948, courtesy of Eastside Big Tom big tom todayEastside Big Tom today (2010) photograph by Matt Kennelly

The “X” where State Avenue and Fourth Avenue meet and become Martin Way and Pacific Avenue is another example of the importance of transportation to Olympia over the ages: from ox teams to drive-throughs.

The land was first cleared by Frank Glidden in the early 20th century. The Glidden family originally settled in South Bay and moved to this location in the early 20th century. Mr. Glidden was an ox teamster by trade. Teamsters played a huge role in the important logging industry of early Thurston county, before railroads made it possible to move logs to market by rail. A skilled ox teamster was therefore much in demand. Frank Glidden’s widow lived on this property for decades after Frank Glidden’s death.

The Eagan family moved to Olympia in the 1940s and lived at the site of the Glidden homestead, at the Capital Auto Court, which they owned. Millie Eagan invented “Goop” in 1947 and, soon after, the family opened the Eastside In and Out Hamburger stand. Later it was renamed Big Tom, in recognition of its signature hamburger (itself named after the eponymous Tom Eagan). At one time, the Eagan family owned several drive-throughs in Thurston County. The Eastside business was sold to the Fritsch family in 1968, which continues to own it.

Drive-in restaurants played an important role in Olympia in the 1940s, as they did everywhere in the West. Route 99 passed through downtown and then turned right on Fourth Avenue, and passed by the Eastside hamburger stand. Today Big Tom is a mecca for locals and visitors alike who seek an alternative to chain fast-food restaurants.

Information on the history of Eastside Big Tom is taken from its Facebook and Myspace postings as well as other local blogs. The location and building do not appear to be inventoried by DAHP (although the Westside Eagan’s is inventoried).

Washington State Historical Society photograph collection

Enter the catalog number in the Collections Search Box: C1986.8.1 (Glidden home; unclear whether it is the South Bay or Fourth Avenue home)

For more information on the Glidden family, see the Residents section of this website (G).

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross