PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The money is coming down.
Fat Smitty's, the landmark cafe and home of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hamburger and walls covered with dollar bills, will remove the cash Saturday to donate it to the Boy Scouts or another charity.
"We don't know exactly what we will do with the money," said Casey Carson, who manages the restaurant for his uncle, Carl "Fat Smitty" Schmidt.
"We might fund a scholarship or build something at one of the Boy Scout camps."
Carson doesn't know how much money is tacked up on the walls but estimated it to be about $6,000.
The restaurant — which is on U.S. Highway 101 near the junction with state Highway 20, the road to Port Townsend — will be closed to the public after today and reopen around March 1, following its tradition of taking a winter break.
Scouts from several troops throughout the area are scheduled to arrive Saturday morning to take the money down.
It will be counted and deposited.
"After it is all down, we will start over," Carson said.
"In a few years, it'll be full up again, and we'll give more money to charity."
The tradition began years ago when a traveling salesman wrote his name on a single dollar bill and tacked it to the wall.
Since then, visitors have scrawled their names or messages on bills, and the restaurant now resembles a greenback rain forest.
The decorations vary, from personal messages to artistic statements or simple ink spots that make George Washington look like Bozo the Clown.
The money is all negotiable as long as one serial number can be read in full and another in part, according to Kitsap Bank general manager Dominic Svornich.
Money that is "damaged" is credited to the depositor's account and then shipped to the Federal Reserve, where it is destroyed, Svornich said.
So when the money is taken down and deposited, a lot of local history will be lost, though in most cases it would be impossible to determine the context.
Carson said the Boy Scouts have been part of Smitty's legacy, with some troops making annual summer pilgrimages while at nearby Camp Carson and decorating specific walls with their troop's patch.
Schmidt opened the restaurant in its current location in 1983 and turned over its management to Carson, 41, in 2010.
Schmidt, who lives behind the restaurant, "still comes in and out whenever he wants," Carson said.
Schmidt's politics lean toward the right, Carson said, adding that politics are irrelevant when it comes to food.
"The food is good, and that's all that matters," he said.
"There is nothing better than a good American hamburger."
Carson's three teenage kids pitch in at the restaurant but do not represent a continuation of a hamburger dynasty.
"The kids know how to work the kitchen and do anything else around here," he said.
"But I want them to have the opportunity to see the world and try different things before they settle down."
While it is well-known there is money on Smitty's walls, there have been no break-ins and few occasions when people try to pocket some of the cash.
"There was guy who tried to take a few bills some time ago," Carson said.
"But I just took the money back and threw his sorry ass out."
Information from: Peninsula Daily News, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com