For 24 years, Tonya Hagan has worked at and managed Centralia’s iconic Bill & Bea’s Drive-in.
Now, she is going to own it.
Come Sept. 1, current owners Jill and Denny Greene will be retiring and handing the reins over to Hagan.
“It’s been a long run, but there comes a time when it’s time to hang it up,” Jill Greene said.
Jill Greene has worked at the drive-in herself since 1969 when she was 16 years old. She and Denny Greene became the owners in 1998.
The Greenes concentrated on keeping the food on the menu the same as it was when Jill Greene originally started working there, including their famous burgers and milkshakes. Denny Greene joked that the food was what brought him and Jill together.
“She made me a burger, and I ended up marrying her,” Denny Greene said.
Coincidentally, when the Greenes became the owners in 1998, Hagan started working there as well.
“I don’t think I had eaten here until I started (working) here. I never even went past Les Schwab,” Hagan said. “But now look.”
Hagan will be the fifth owner to run Bill & Bea’s. She intends to keep the menu as it is, but plans to add a new monthly special as well. It will be a different type of burger each month, and if a special sells well enough, she plans to keep it on the menu permanently.
Over the years, the Greenes successfully ran the restaurant despite the dizzying amount of issues restaurant owners face on a daily basis.
From kitchen equipment failure to break-ins, they’ve seen and handled it all.
Both Jill and Denny Greene feel bittersweet about retiring, citing older age as the main factor for the move.
“I may have to come work for her (Hagan), I’ll be the greeter, like at Walmart,” Jill Greene said.
Hagan is ready but still feels a bit nervous about taking over and joked the Greenes should expect her to call them occasionally.
“At least if something happens, I can just call them,” Hagan said. “They’re really not off the hook yet.”
Bill and Bea’s Drive-in is located on 1215 Harrison Ave. in Centralia.