Thursday, July 01, 2010
Dinner & a Movie
Head out to the Mayberry Drive-In and Diner this summer for a taste of sweet simplicity and nostalgic charm
Mayberry Drive-In and Diner, just about everything harkens back to an era of Hula Hoops, poodle skirts and cozying up in a classic Cadillac. Situated in a splendidly private Moneta field, the family-friendly attraction is on its way to becoming an area icon.
When they opened the novelty business in October 2008, Huddleston residents Bob Craig and Kathy Gentry weren’t sure the idea would fly.
“We have a diner in the middle of a cow pasture. It was lack of common sense,” said Craig.
Cow pasture or not, the venture has been a hit. SML locals and tourists have embraced the establishment, proving it a perfect fit for an already Mayberry-like community.
Open year-round, the charming silver diner offers a 1950s mealtime experience complete with burgers, ice cream shakes, banana splits and pie. Gentry serves as the restaurant’s Aunt Bee, contributing her talent for cooking and creating specialty recipes.
“We make everything homemade. Our homemade chicken salad, the macaroni salad are both customer favorites,” said Gentry. “I make a special butterscotch pie, and our house dressing is a homemade recipe. We have a lady that comes and makes fried green tomatoes from scratch.”
Aside from the quality of the food, the diner’s wholesome atmosphere also appeals to customers. The restaurant has become a family favorite for Hardy residents Erich and Meg Faber and their children.“It’s a different atmosphere from other types of places; it’s unique,” said Meg Faber. “Erich and I love the homemade, comfort-style food, and the kids like items such as their chicken fingers and hot dogs. We went last fall for Erich’s birthday. We
Craig said most of the diner’s customers are locals.
“We have a lot of people say the diner’s style brings them back to their childhood,” he said. “They like that it is family oriented, and we don’t serve any alcoholic beverages whatsoever.”
Mayberry’s drive-in theater is bustling throughout the warm summer months. Craig said because last year’s traffic was heavier than expected, managing the crowds will be a priority this season.
“We’ve already had an evening this year where cars were backed up down the road,” he said. “It was unexpected; we had about 400 to 450 people.
“We’re doing to-go orders with a call service so people don’t have to miss any part of the movie and aren’t crowding the diner. We’re putting a concession wagon out there soon.”
Despite the crowds, Craig said customers seem pleased with the drive-in.
it. They say they are glad that we’re here. We get a lot of traffic from
The business is adding a few new attractions this summer, according to Craig.
working with a company out of
Craig and Gentry have allowed churches and schools to use the facilities for fundraising events. In May, the couple hosted the second Old & New Car Show with the Rotary Club of Smith Mountain Lake, what Craig considers their summer kick-off event. In July, another car show will benefit the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.
The Mayberry Diner is open daily 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Movies at the drive-in start at dusk. For more information and show listings, call 540.296.1480 or visit mayberrydrivein.com.