Quick Bites: Readers remember old Elkhart drive-ins
Posted: 07/07/2013 at 9:00 am
By: Marshall V. King
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Simonton Lake Drive-in is the last remaining drive-in in Elkhart County. It opened nearly 50 years ago. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Simonton Lake Drive-in carhop Christy Gonzalez, right, clears away mugs as she talks with long-time customer Chuck Gooding during the lunch rush Friday, March 8, 2013. Gooding brought his grandson for lunch on opening day for the season. Sunshine and warming temperatures made lunch at the 1950s-style drive-in enjoyable for both carhops and diners. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
The curbside menu for Simonton Lake Drive-in. Friday March 8, 2013 was opening day for the 1950s-style drive-in, which is the last remaining drive-in in Elkhart County. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Reader Karen Gorski had asked the question and I didn’t have a good answer.
But Elkhart Truth readers did.
The phone started ringing Monday morning. The emails started rolling in.
By Wednesday, around 20 people had called or emailed. Reader Don Geiger even stopped in to talk about the answer to the question.
Gorski was thinking of Checkley’s, which had a walk-up window. Ozzie’s was across the street, but used carhops, according to readers.
Diana Staley worked at Checkley’s, which was at 3405 S. Main St. near where McDonald’s and Burger King are now. Checkley’s was first Lick’n Chick’n Drive-In and then Checkley’s, according to city directories.
Ozzie’s was at 3406 S. Main St., Elkhart, from 1950 to 1974, according to an Elkhart Truth clipping. Geiger said he worked there, earning the money to buy his first car by frying onion rings that a woman named Helen battered.
The Corral was another drive-in near where Meijer is now, according to Mary Ryman. That place had great tenderloins.
Joan Hurley was a carhop at Triangle Drive-In near Franklin and Harrison streets west of downtown Elkhart. “Those were the good old days,” she said.
Elkhart historian Paul Thomas said the most popular drive-in in the 1950s to 1970s was Dave’s, which was north of Bristol Street on Cassopolis Street.
“Drive-ins were very important at the time,” he said, noting that the most important one was the one you went to most of the time.
The Simonton Lake Drive-In has been in business 48 years, according to owner Rick Hoff. It’s Elkhart County’s lone remaining drive-in.
• Baker’s Nook Cafe, 127 Easy Shopping Place, Elkhart, is serving ice cream from The Chief in Goshen. The cafe is selling portions of three, eight and 12 ounces, as well as shakes and sundaes, according to owner Linda Zimmerman.
• Chalet Party Shoppe/Belmont Liquors is having a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County at its C.R. 17 location. The event from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 13, is $25 per person. Tickets are available at Chalet stores or the day of the event, according to a press release from the Boys & Girls Clubs.
• Mark your calendars: Elkhart Dining Dayswill be Oct. 4-12. Last year, 18 restaurants offered specials to promote their business and raise money for Church Community Services. The goal is to have 20 restaurants offering lunch or dinner specials this year, according to a press release from Michele Scherpenberg.
• S.A.L.T. Sistersis offering flavored, organic sugars in a line called C.A.N.E., according to a press release. The blends start at $9.25 a package and could be used in a variety of summer beverages.
Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at email@example.com, 574-296-5805, via Twitter @hungrymarshall or the Dining A La King Facebook page. His blog is at blogs.etruth.com/diningalaking.