Darrell Orth inspected the sealant on the pavement, willing it to dry faster, and hovered over the menu boards as the carhops finished adding items and prices before he could hang them.
He said he still has little things he wants to do inside and out, but he’s been cleared to open Pete’s Drive-In on West Harvard Avenue and couldn’t wait any longer. He opened up to little fanfare, but a small crowd on Monday.
“I’ve waited over seven months for this and nothing’s going to stop me from opening,” Orth said.
Pete’s shut down in December after a car drove into the building. Most of the employees left or found temporary work elsewhere, but Chelsea Gardner stayed to help with the reconstruction and worked in the food truck when it was operating.
“I hope I see lots of my regulars,” Gardner said. “I miss them.”
Ten minutes before Pete’s Drive-In reopened, a 1931 Buick and two 1969 Chevrolet Chevelles pulled into the parking lot, waiting to be the first customers.
The Buick was loaded with four friends on their way to a classic car tour starting in Cottage Grove this week and they stopped in, completely unaware it was the first day for Pete’s reopening.
“We’ve been coming here since Steve and I were in high school,” LuAnn Gorthy said. They are both in their 60s now.
James and Judy Throne brought their 1969 green Chevrolet Chevelle, nicknamed “Poison Ivy,” which is so well known around Pete’s that it’s painted on the new mural.
“It’s a great place to be,” James Throne said. “All hang out, all the cool cars. I’m glad it’s open, glad it’s back.”
The Thrones pulled in just before Jim and Glynda Walker did with their orange and white Chevelle. They have all been coming to Pete’s to show off and see other old cars for years and they planned to show up first to show their support and to enjoy one of their old favorite places again.
“You get into old cars, you get into Pete’s,” Jim Walker said. “It’s the place to be with old cars.”
Pete’s will host the Cruise-In for Graffiti Weekend, the annual classic event on Friday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“I think if you asked all of the car clubs, they would say it wasn’t Graffiti if there wasn’t Pete’s,” Orth said. “Every night, there will be cars here, which is the fun part of being owners of Pete’s.”
With the reopening, three of the six carhops returned along with all three of the cooks. However, Orth said he is planning to add another cook soon.
Orth had equipment stored all over the state while he finished up construction. He bought all new fryers and grills as well as put in a new front window. Before any of the equipment was moved in, the building was a little smaller than before, but with all the equipment inside, it’s about the same floor space with a new layout.
“I feel really good,” Orth said. “We’re just hoping to get the kinks worked out. Like a newborn, we’re suffering growing pains. We appreciate Roseburg for being patient with us.”