ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Dick Sanchis, the owner of Arctic Roadrunner, died Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 79 years old. Sanchis, who founded the business in 1964, owned two shops in town-- one on the Old Seward Highway near International Airport Road, and one on Arctic Boulevard near Northern Lights Boulevard.
He had been a steady presence inside both of the restaurants ever since. He famously walked from table to table talking with diners, asking how their food was, and talking about their families.
News spread quickly on Facebook, and Tuesday afternoon there was a large line of customers lined up for an Attu Burger or the traditional Arctic Burger.
State lawmaker Chris Tuck arrived before noon to order a Lord Baranof burger, onion rings and a chocolate shake.
"As you walk through (the restaurant) all the family pictures, all the people, all the Alaskans he has honored throughout his restaurant, just speaks of the man, and who he was and how well he was connected," Tuck said.
Customer Patricia Newman ordered an Attu burger, onion rings and a Coke.
"I've been coming for about 15 years," Newman said, "for the restaurant mainly, the food is natural, and it's so great, plus I have a non-profit organization and they always support us with silent auctions and gifts for events. They really do great outreach for the community."
Sanchis donated free burgers, drinks, as well as money to almost every organization in Anchorage. Tuck said he remembered being a little kid in Anchorage and Sanchis donated to his Little League team as well as the Youth Symphony Orchestra.
During cold winters, customers would eat lunch in front of the big stone fireplace at the restaurant off the Old Seward Highway, surrounded by hundreds of pictures of longtime customers that covered almost every inch of the walls.
Longtime managers of the restaurant declined to talk to Channel 2 Tuesday, saying Sanchis's death was too recent and they were struggling with their emotions. An update about his death was posted on Arctic Roadrunner's Facebook page Tuesday afternoon: "We would like to let all of you know of the passing of Richard Sanchis. A wonderful man and amazing employer. His legacy will live on through the people whose hearts his burgers and kindness have touched throughout all these years. He will be thoroughly missed."
He is survived by two children, Rici and Cara, as well as several long time employees.