Federal Way family owns Swedish meatball drive-thru restaurant near JBLM

A Federal Way family owns what has to be the only Swedish meatball drive-thru restaurant in the area.

For Carrie and Chad Stalder, opening Manic Meatballs on 14815 Union Ave. SW in Lakewood just made sense.

Carrie said they felt like meatballs were relatively uncommon at most restaurants, let alone restaurants with drive-thrus.

She said meatballs are a special meal in her family and are often prepared for holidays, and her husband Chad’s Swedish heritage means he has an excellent family meatball recipe.

Chad said Swedish meatballs are unique because of their incorporation of both pork and beef, mixed with herbs like nutmeg and covered in a cream or brown gravy.

Before opening the day after Christmas last year, Carrie said she thought, “it should work, but will it?”

Carrie said business had been good since opening, as the restaurant has been able to double its staff.

The menu includes a variety of side dishes including cucumber salad, mashed potatoes, pasta, baked beans, rice pudding and homemade applesauce served warm.

Carrie said the menu is rooted in traditional Swedish cuisine, but includes twists that were developed in the Stalder’s own Swedish-American home.

“People are eager for something new,” Carrie said.

The restaurant is located close to Joint Base Lewis-McChord right off of I-5, meaning the venue will be frequently visited by hungry military families and I-5 travelers alike.

Carrie said Manic Meatballs can serve a whole military unit in a short time because of the restaurant’s quick service design.

But for those not in a hurry, the Stalders said they wanted Manic Meatballs to be a place where families could sit down and enjoy each other’s company.

The inside of the restaurant is decorated with framed vinyl records with tracks like “Manic Monday” by The Bangles and Prince.

In the center of the dining area is a large wooden ship crafted to resemble a viking longship and an homage to the family’s Scandinavian heritage.

“We wanted to be a little more special,” Carrie said of the decorations and centerpiece.