by Mary Cokenour
In the late 1950s, an A&W opened up in Blanding, with a secondary franchise in Monticello.
While the Monticello location went bust after only two years due to lack of business; the Blanding location was holding strong.
Not wanting to be reigned over by A&W overlords, the owner left the franchise in the mid-1960s and the Patio Drive-In was born. Since then, as told by Steve Bronson at the Blanding Visitors Center, “The list of people who didn’t own it at one time is far shorter than those who did.”
Patio Drive-In is an example of the 1950s drive-in diner; not as large as “Al’s” on Happy Days, but just as busy with both happy customers and employees.
The current owners, Lana and Ricky Arthur, have owned the restaurant since 2009; they have developed a strict vision statement, “WE ARE NOT A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. We are a food establishment reminiscent of a bygone era where the quality of the food meant more to America than how fast it could be served.”
Anyone visiting the Patio can see, and experience, the truth of this statement; people talking, laughing and eating without worrying about the time; no one is rushed out.
Warmer weather can find visitors and locals alike sitting under covered umbrellas at the tables outside, or even sitting on the grassy lawn.
At Patio, the food is made to order; there are no heat lamp units, the one microwave is for employee personal use only; the food is freshly prepped and freshly cooked…period!
To make the quarter, or half, pound burgers (dependent on type ordered), the meat is partially cooked on the grill, then take a bath in house made au jus before going back onto the grill.
Did you ever wonder why they tasted so beefy and juicy? Now you know the secret, and here’s one more; the grilled chicken soaks in Sierra Mist soda, and another ingredient I swore not to reveal, before hitting the grill.
Do you love melt in the mouth onion rings? Thinly sliced, separated and soaked in a buttermilk bath; hand dredged through a seasoned flour mixture; then deep fried to a golden brown. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off the side of my chin.
Orders can be called in for pick up, or use the drive-thru window, but be prepared to turn off the engine and wait. Freshly cooked means freshly cooked; this ain’t no McDonald’s and everyone is so happy for that!
Welcoming atmosphere, friendly owners and staff, fresh made to order food; there is no way I could not put a positive perspective on Patio Drive-In. Visit them, if you have not already, and I bet you will feel the same as I do.
Patio Drive-In, 95 N Grayson Pkwy. (Route 191), Blanding, Phone: (435) 678-2177, Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat, 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.; closed Sun.