- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A mile outside of Lewisburg, Jim’s Drive-In has kept the tradition of curbside service alive since 1950.

Kathy Massie bought the restaurant in 2001 after working as a waitress at Jim’s Drive-In in 1969. Her 1969 paystub now hangs on the wall.

The Massies were the fourth family to own the restaurant after Jim Dunbar created it and have kept it family-owned and operated over the years.

Kathy Massie, her two daughters Lynn and Elizabeth, along with their two daughters, and four girls who are “like family” run the restaurant six days a week.

Customers use vintage metal trays that hang off their car window and because the restaurant is cash-only, the waitresses carry around bill changers to make change at the car.

Although many menu items have been added over the years, Jim’s Drive-In still uses the same hot dog and barbecue recipe with fresh burgers and French fries as the original owner.

Whenever Lynn Massie and her sister travel and try new things, they try to replicate recipes at the restaurant. This has led to more than 20 new milkshake creations and a variety of new hamburgers.

They’ve also added a lot of fried items over the years such as deep fried pickles, banana pepper rings, mushrooms, cheese sticks and fried green tomato sandwiches.

“If we can fry it, it’s here,” Massie said.

The restaurant is built on family values and does everything in its power to cater to families.

They close on Sundays for family time and laundry. The restaurant closes at 5 p.m. every weekday except for Wednesday when it closes at 2 p.m.

When their parents bought Jim’s Drive-In, Lynn Massie left her job running a prison system cafeteria in Massachusetts, and her sister, Elizabeth, left her job running several Wal-Mart stores to help their parents.

After losing their father in 2011 to cancer, the sisters cherish family time at the restaurant. The family works together in the small, hot kitchen to get food out to customers.

“It’s a small space so it takes a unique group to work in that space together all the time,” Massie said. “Trust me, we have our moments but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Although they’ve always been dedicated to giving back to the community, since losing their father and aunt to cancer, they’ve become involved in Relay for Life, raising more than $15,000 for the cause last year.

Jim’s Drive-In employees know the names of most of their customers, but it’s not uncommon for out-of-towners to stop by since the restaurant has gotten national attention for its great reputation.

The restaurant was featured in Southern Living’s Off the Eaten Path cookbook for its Ranch Burger and Barbecue recipe. The Food Network is also featuring their fried green tomato sandwich and English hot dogs.

Massie said it was quite an honor for their “little hole in the wall” to be recognized for its food, especially because both Southern Living and The Food Network approached them first.

“It definitely makes all the hard work, the heat and the hours worth it,” Massie said. “It makes you feel proud because they actually chose us.”

Jennifer Sprouse of Lewisburg said she has always made an effort to visit Jim’s Drive-In over the years - even when she was in college she would make it a point to stop by on breaks.

“Not only do they have the best burger in town, it’s been an iconic establishment for years,” Sprouse said. “It’s nice just to come here, drive in or sit outside in the sun and eat.”

Sprouse, whose favorite menu item is the popcorn chicken, went to school with one of the daughters and enjoys the welcoming environment.

“They’re really great. They’ll treat you like family here,” Sprouse said. “They keep their workers for a while too so you know they really enjoy working here, so they’re usually pretty pleasant and happy people.”

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Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, https://www.charlestondailymail.com

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