Future of B&B Drive-In in doubt
Sharon Dee McClain remembers when the conductor of the Denver Northwest Pacific would stop the passenger train he was driving on the tracks behind B&B Dairy King Drive Inn and pop in for lunch. When he was done, he’d board and pull forward so the caboose operator could do the same.
McClain, who started working at the restaurant when she was 10 years old, remembers a lot of the restaurant’s 50-plus-year history.
It’s a history that likely will end this year.
The death of owner Gene Bruce on April 27, which came within five months of the death of co-owner Beulah Burrows, has led family members to consider whether they’re in a position to continue operating the restaurant.
McClain, Bruce’s niece, and her son, Kanton Ruff, have been running the burger stand east of Craig on U.S. Highway 40, which offered homemade french fries and peanut butter milk shakes served by a car hop.
Because of heating costs, B&B opens in the spring and closes when the snow flies.
“We try to hit those hunters,” McClain said. “It’s the last big shebang for restaurants.”
They would be preparing to open now, except there are several pieces of equipment that need to be replaced and family members haven’t decided where the money will come from to do so.
“We just barely made it through last year with the ice cream machine,” McClain said.
“Everything out there is ancient, including me. We’ve pampered it as long as we can and replacing it is quite a hunk of money.”
She said the restaurant will not open this year as the family considers its options.
According to McClain, her grandfather, Bruce, started the business because people thought he was too old to work.
It started as a filling station until Bruce discovered the state wouldn’t allow gas pumps to be placed as close to the road as he wanted.
The building was already constructed, so it became a restaurant. “We hadn’t ever had anything to do with restaurants,” McClain said. “We learned as we went.”
Bruce named the restaurant after himself and his son-in-law, Ronald Burrows. They added “Dairy King” because they couldn’t afford the franchise fees to become a Dairy Queen.
It has been a family business for more than 50 years.
“The whole family works there until they die, then they pass it on to the next generation,” McClain said.
There will be many who miss the restaurant.
McClain tells stories of people driving cross country who said they came 100 miles out of their way because they’d been told to stop at B&B. Another customer had an ice- cream-cone loving Samoyed that would get so excited when they approached the restaurant that it would climb into the driver’s lap and block his view of the road.
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