A few months ago, for no particular reason, I stopped at Cy's Drive-In on my way home. It had been a heinous day -- long and harried -- but something possessed me to stop in.
A sign indicated that the place was under new ownership, but not much had changed since the last time I'd been there. Fifties music and movie icon posters still adorned the walls inside, along with other assorted kitsch items from that era. The cash register was still in the same vicinity and it appeared that the Alaskan Burger was still the specialty of the house.
Ah, the Alaskan burger -- my old friend. Basically a double-decker cheeseburger with the usual burger fixings plus Thousand Island dressing, it's one of those sloppy burgers -- very drippy -- requiring multiple napkins.
I ordered an Alaskan Burger basket (comes with fries) to go and sat down at a table to wait. A few minutes later my thoughts were interrupted as a chocolate shake, complete with whipped cream and a cherry, made its way into my vision. The woman at the counter who had taken my order was standing in front of me. "Here you go hon. You look like you could really use this," was all she said. Shocked, but elated, I thanked her about eight times. As she walked back behind the counter and into the kitchen, I heard her say, "See, I knew that would perk her right up."
She was right. The milkshake was smooth, creamy and chocolatey -- very soothing. I had been in a miserable mood and this truly was the nicest thing anyone had done for me since the day began.
It was then I realized how much I'd missed Cy's. It'd been a regular on my indulgent food circuit for years. They've always had great shakes, good greasy burgers and crispy onion rings. I could rely on them for a fix, any time of the day, any day of the year.
And while Cy's has always had friendly neighborhood service, the smiling, easygoing nature of the folks now behind the counter definitely kicked it up a notch. The woman who brightened my day calls everyone "hon," "sweetie," "dear" or "sugar" -- endearments that usually only a grandparent can get away with. Usually this kind of intimacy from a stranger is just plain old creepy, but this woman pulls it off, making everyone feel that they are the apple of her eye.
I've been back a handful of times since and have made an effort to try some of the new items on the menu. They have excellent grinders, cook up some good chicken (with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy) and their Wednesday barbecue beef rivals the Alaskan burger as a new favorite. Their fine selection of Stewarts sodas also deserves mention, especially the orange cream.
Still, my favorite thing about Cy's is that it remains true to its roots. There is still that nostalgic drive-in feel to the place, probably because they still offer curbside service. You park in the designated spots, turn on your lights and a person actually comes out to take your order.
Yes, indeedy -- long before another yellow-and-red neon establishment with convenient drive-in service was a twinkle in anybody's eye, there was Cy's. And since 1953, it's been faithfully keeping watch over the corner of 19th and Uintah Street. And the legacy continues.