Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 24, 2014

Owner needs help keeping Clear Lake drive-in open

Jul 30, 2014

CLEAR LAKE (AP) — The owner of a drive-in restaurant that’s been in business for decades in northern Iowa is looking for help to keep it open.

The Barrel Drive-In in Clear Lake needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, the Mason City Globe Gazette reports. There’s only half an ice cream machine and one of the chicken broasters hasn’t worked in years. The floor drains have collapsed and ceiling tiles are falling apart.

Owner Seth Thackery, 34, said he doesn’t have the money to make the repairs and he has considered selling the business. Recent media coverage has brought emails and phone calls from people who want to help.

“I don’t know what any of it entails yet so I am just trying to weigh everything right now,” he said. “I am just doing the best I can to keep this thing around.”

The drive-in opened in 1958 and Thackery started working there when he was 14.

“I’ve run the place for 10 years or more and every year has been a battle,” he said. “I just can’t do it by myself anymore, which I think is kind of evident just by looking around.”

He’s considering applying for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places or starting an internet fundraising campaign.

Neighboring Casey’s General Stores has said it’s interested in buying the property, but that would mean the end of the drive-in and Thackery said he hopes to save it.

“I’d love to keep the place around and just immortalize it in Clear Lake history forever,” he said. “I just don’t know if it’s possible at this point.”

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