Landmark Restaurant Facing Hardship, Owner Turns To Residents For Help

Created: 07/30/2014 11:24 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- A landmark restaurant in Clear Lake, IA, is facing tremendous financial difficulties and the owner is now turning to residents for help.

"Everyone has a story about the Barrel Drive-In,” said owner Seth Thackery. “You mention Clear Lake and they say, ‘Okay, let's go stop at the Barrel.’"

When Thackery started working at the drive-in, he was just 14 years old.

"I started at the lowest position, as a car-hop,” Thackery said.

Having moved up to owner for the past ten years, Thackery has seen the restaurant, which opened in 1958, fall steadily into disrepair.

"The building was built in ’58, so that's pretty much my biggest issue,” Thackery said. “Everything I run into can't be fixed anymore, it has to be replaced."

Thackery has replaced and fixed everything from coolers to the roof, but there are still tens of thousands of dollars worth of work to be done.

It's money Thackery doesn't have, forcing him to consider selling. But he said those interested in buying only want to level the building to make room for new development.

"I don't want that to ever happen. There's too much history, too many memories,” Thackery said. “I just need people to help me out with it. I can't do it by myself anymore."

Thackery said several local businesses have offered to help him fix it up, and he's still hopeful better days are ahead.

"It means everything to me,” Thackery said. “You meet some great people that just want to share their stories and you love listening to it. There's not many places like this left. I don't want to see it go away."

If you would like to help with the renovation project, you can stop by, call during normal business hours, or contact them through the restaurant’s Facebook page.