Nostalgia is on the menu at the last Druther's restaurant
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KENTUCKY (WDKY)-- There's always a line at the counter of the Druther's restaurant in Campbellsville and the dining room is never empty. People have been coming here for almost 50 years and now, they often come from three or four hours away.There were nearly 200 Druther's restaurants in Kentucky and surrounding states in the 1970s and 80s. It seemed every small town had one. The chain started in Louisville as Burger Queen in 1963 with the Queenie Bee mascot ( still seen on the Campbellsville sign).
But the chain changed its name to Druther's in 1981, wanting to emphasize it had more than burgers. The name implied you could go to other fast food restaurants., but you would "druther" go someplace a little different.
"People know they can get pretty good food for a reasonable price," said owner Steve McCarty, who realizes the value of running a restaurant that's the last of its kind. By the early 90s, Druther's was taken over by Dairy Queen. But because Campbellsville already had a DQ close by, this restaurant was left out of the conversion. McCarty's dad went out on his own, kept the name and the menu.
"A lot of the food is the exact same food we've had all along," McCarty said. The turnovers, onion rings-- most all of it is what we've always used."
Now, regular customers are used to seeing a lot of strangers in their midst-- people who make road trips to relive a taste of their youth. Facebook messages and YouTube videos show how many people have fond memories of the salad bar, the all-day breakfast or the mascot, Andy Dandytale.
Long-time customer and former employee Rick Pickett says he's used to see people outside, snapping pictures of the building. "They all want to go back and show their friends they've been to the last Druther's"
McCarty said one time he had a customer from Washington state who told him, "My buddy just got married in Lexington . As soon as I found out I was coming to Lexington, I knew I was going to make a side trip to Druthers."
Regular customers and tourists alike hope they never see this one boarded up.
"I wouldn't like it," said Pollyanna Perkins, who comes about once a month from LaRue County. "They can't close it. We'd miss our fish sandwiches."
McCarty said customers shouldn't worry about that for a while: "Lord willing, I hope I can work another ten years at least."