by NATHANIEL NELSON
For 80 years, Lakeview Drive Inn has been brewing root beer and serving classic roadside grub to Winona residents, and for its anniversary, the owners are celebrating in style.
Lakeview Drive Inn will host a sock hop dance and a movie night to celebrate its 80th anniversary, in partnership with WINONArts and the city of Winona.
“It’s our 80th anniversary, and we wanted to do something special so we reached out to the city and WINONArts,” said Tim Glowczewski, the owner of Lakeview Drive Inn. “And they said, ‘We think we can help you.’”
The first of these events is the sock hop, which is happening on Wednesday, July 11, at 6 p.m. In a partnership with Leighton Broadcasting and WINONArts, the drive inn will be featuring Paul Daly from 101.1 The River as a DJ, dressed in full Elvis attire, to spin classic tracks all night.
Lee Gundersheimer, the art and culture coordinator of Winona, explained that the drive inn’s sock hop idea was perfect for a celebration.
“The sock hop is timeless, with the drive inn being of that period anyways,” Gundersheimer said. “And when I asked Tim about what to do for decorations, he just said the drive inn is a ‘50s decoration.”
The sock hop will have dancing, a hula hoop contest, a limbo contest, prizes and discounts on food. “People will be able to dance and get worked up and frothy,” Glowczewski joked with a slight chuckle, “But I think I’m just going to observe.”
Later in the month, on July 28 at 9 p.m., Lakeview will host a “Drive Inn” movie night featuring Disney’s live action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” Despite the restaurant’s name, drive-in movies were never the norm.
“This will be the first drive-in movie at the Drive Inn,” Glowczewski said, “but you don’t have to bring a car.”
The film is part of a larger series of film screenings put on by WINONArts titled “Movies (Under The) Stars.” According to Gundersheimer, the series will consist of five or more screenings of recent films in public spaces, complete with a large blow-up screen, projection and surround sound. Since “Beauty and the Beast” is a fairly well known film, Gundersheimer said he hopes people will interact and sing along.
“Movie theaters are good, but there’s nothing like sitting with a group of people and watching a movie outside,” Gundersheimer said. “And this movie is like ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ for families.”
The film will be screened across the street from Lakeview, with enough space for 600-1,000 people to attend. The events will feature special menus and discounts to celebrate the drive inn’s anniversary.
Both the movie and the sock hop work well with Lakeview Drive Inn, thanks to its vintage charm, but that is not a coincidence.
“I like to say we’re a working antique,” Glowczewski said. “We’re not a theme restaurant. We’re a genuine 1930s restaurant.”
According to Glowczewski, the root beer stand has been in his family since it opened in the 1930s, and has stayed a family-focused place since its inception. Much of the establishment has remained unchanged, including the outside decor and some of the equipment. In the 40 years he has worked there, Glowczewski has seen generations come and go in the store, both as customers and employees.
“A lot of the girls that work here, they go off, get married, and have children. Then they want their kids to work here. It’s that kind of a family place,” Glowczewski said.
These are not the first anniversary events that the drive inn has had a part in, either. For its 50th anniversary, Glowczewski said, Lakeview started putting on cruise nights, where locals bring classic cars and drive around Winona. Surprisingly, despite the Drive Inn doing dozens of them a year today, it started out as a one-time event.
“When my parents owned it, we just did one [cruise night],” Glowczewski recalled. “It had a good turnout, but we had a few in the community who wanted to keep doing it. It grew, and it grew, and it grew.”
Today, they’re continuing that tradition with new ways to connect to their customers and new celebrations. Even so, Glowczewski is not going to drastically change what Lakeview Drive Inn is doing anytime soon.
“Everything is going well, and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” he said.