Drive & dine
A nostalgic drive-in along the shores of Lake Superior
BARAGA — Encountering a drive-in is generally a rare occurrence in this day and age. That is, unless you’re in Baraga.
With high approval rates on travel review companies Trip Advisor and Yelp, the Baraga Drive In is a piece of American history reminiscent of the 1950s and ’60s found near the Lake Superior shoreline.
The seasonal drive-in, which first opened in the mid-1950s, is located at 1156 S. Superior Ave. in Baraga and has been owned and operated by Rob and Beth Reynolds since May 2017. The couple bought the drive-in after Rob retired as a correction officer.
“I’ve had always been in the restaurant type of work since I was about 14,” Rob said. “I retired last June with the (Michigan) Department of Corrections and decided to get back into restaurant work.”
The drive-in operates as it has for decades — customers drive their vehicles under the facility’s awning and a carhop, or server, will take the order and deliver food and drinks to them.
“People pull right in, just like in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s like what you see in the movies; the carhop takes their order,” Rob said. “The only thing different is they’re not wearing rollerskates.”
The Baraga Drive In has an extensive menu including popular items such as burgers, hot dogs and coney dogs, sandwiches, homemade custard and root beer. They also have salads for anyone looking for something on the lighter side.
Every day the drive-in has fresh chocolate, vanilla and a special flavor of custard, which is typically posted on its Facebook page.
The Baraga Drive In also hosts and caters to a classic vehicle show from 6-9 p.m. every Tuesday where owners pull their vintage rides alongside the facility for display. Rob’s mother, Charlene, hooks up a sound system and plays timely music. Spectators travel from all over the Upper Peninsula to see the cars, Rob said, adding that anyone who brings a vehicle gets a free custard.
“The car show happened on a whim. We had a couple of local guys with classic vehicles ask if they could come down and hang out,” Rob said. “We started out with 18 cars the first night, which was on June 21, and we’ve had up to 38.”
Since they’ve owned the Baraga Drive In, Rob said they’ve remodeled the facility’s kitchen and front area, and plan to work on the awning and parking lot next year. Recently, a patio off the building was added, an upgrade from the chairs they originally had situated around the lawn, Rob said.
“We just added the patio less then a month ago,” Beth said in an email. “We dedicated our patio to Rob’s mom Charlene who does all the flowers around the patio and grounds, along with making homemade biscuits for the strawberry shortcake, and our coleslaw dressing.”
The Baraga Drive In is open the first week of April until the fall.
“We closed the end of September last year because the weather went south but we try and stay open as late as we can,” Rob said.
The Baraga Drive In hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit the Baraga Drive In’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/BaragaDriveIn.
Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.