There are some places that just take you back. That are more like a time machine than a restaurant. Where you can sit and soak up the vibes of an era long since past. I’ve been to some places that have been in business for as much as a hundred years. Due to renovations and modernization though they loose their old feel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Nor am I saying that a place shouldn’t refurbish itself. A nice modern looking place can be good for business. However when you stumble upon these places that seem like they’re stuck in a different epoch it’s very special.
Take Wright’s Dairy-Rite in Staunton, (pronounced STAN-ten) Virginia. Opened in 1952 this drive-in started as a drive up hamburger and ice cream stand. It has grown over the years and as of 1989 has a dining room. It hasn’t lost it’s feel though. It’s still owned by the same family and it’s still doing things the way they did when they opened. Ya, the Wurlitzer juke box plays CD’s instead of 45’s but the music dates back to the 50’s and 60’s. Vintage menus from days gone by are posted all over the dining room and you even order your food from your booth by phone.Drive-in’s hit their hey day in the late 50’s and early 60’s but have been around since Jessie G. Kirby of Dallas, Texas opened Kirby’s Pig Stand way back in 1921. Much like the family owned motel that used to dominate the old state highways the drive-in has suffered with the advent of the national chain and the interstate system. Fast food giant McDonald’s grew out of this era and style of restaurant. Heck, even one of their signature sandwiches, the Big Mac can be traced back to a drive-in. Take Wright’s for example. They were making their double deck Super Burger more than 10 years earlier than the now famous bi-level sandwich. They aren’t the only ones either. Remember the Super Big Buy at The Spot in Findlay, Ohio?
So when you find one of these road side gems you almost have to stop.
And stop we did for a terrific lunch.
We followed the instructions, picked up the phone and ordered a Carolina burger, a Dogzilla, onion rings and a Wright’s Wheelie.
All items are cooked when ordering so it takes a bit longer to arrive than you’d expect. It’s worth the wait so just sit back and soak up the experience.
I give them full marks on their rings for a few things. Battered and fried in house is a plus. They passed both the pinch and pull tests. They were however not my favourite style of ring. I prefer bigger beefsteak type onion slices and a beer batter. This was more like a breading than a batter. All in all still pretty tasty.
The Carolina burger is so named for the way they eat their hot dogs in the Carolinas. Chili, cheese, onions, mustard and slaw. Called “The Works” or “All the Way” usually, it was a third pound of delicious beef hand formed and flat top griddled.
The one third pound “Dogzilla” was fantastic. I’m not usually a monster hot dog guy but this one was fantastic. The onions were nice and fresh but the deli mustard was what really made it.
The Wheelie was to die for. A fresh glazed donut (think Krispy Kreme Original Cream) topped with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. We added butterscotch and strawberry sauces. The goop left at the bottom was enough to make you want to lick the carton.
Much like a good drive-in should they make their own milk shakes and malteds. As you can imagine, they were great.
You can visit Wright’s at 346 Greenville, Ave in Staunton, Virginia.
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You can also visit them on the web or join their facebook fan page.
Well that’s all for now from the food court. See y’all next time.