It’s a long leap from a creamery in The Netherlands to the huge chain of Burgerville fast-food restaurants in Washington and Oregon, but it all began with a Dutchman named Propstra.
Jacob “Jack” Propstra was born into a buttermaking family in Holland in 1886 and 18 years later came alone to the United States. Propstra settled first in the Chicago area, where he married Anna Verdenius. Then in 1915 he and his family headed to the Pacific Coast.
Propstra bought a defunct creamery in Ridgefield and put it on a paying basis within a matter of months. The following year, in 1916, he relocated in Vancouver and established the Vancouver Creamery, which he ran for four years.
He then went into partnership with a brother, Joe, in operating the Sunset Creamery in Portland until 1922.
Propstra returned to Vancouver and established the Holland Creamery at 305 Main St. He remained at that location until 1927, when he moved to what was then the northern edge of the business district, at Main and McLoughlin, where he erected a 50-by-100 building.
The creamery grew into the present Holland restaurant operation when a son, Ernie, added an 11-stool counter where he served sandwiches, coffee and ice cream. Another son, George, took over the restaurant business in about 1938 when Ernie decided to move to Seattle.
After World War II, George Propstra took over the business which has since grown to three Holland restaurants and more than 30 Burgerville outlets.
Jacob Propstra died in Vancouver Nov. 9, 1961, at the age of 75.