Scott Astry of Roseburg has been cruising up and down Harvard Avenue and pulling into Pete’s Drive-In for burgers since he was a teenager.
“I love this place,” he said.
So he drove his classic Chevy El Camino down Saturday to join other car and burger enthusiasts at the Pete’s Drive’n Cruise and Social. The event featured classic cars, along with Pete’s chili and matchbox car races. Participants wanted to show their support and raise some money for the owners of the restaurant, which was damaged Dec. 2 after a runaway vehicle crashed into it and caught fire.
“It’s a shame that somebody ran over the dang place. We thought we’d come out and support it,” Astry said.
Sonny Smith of Glide made an entrance Saturday revving the engine that sits atop the hood of his 1941 Willys drag car named “Thor.”
He’s a member of the group Chip Seal Junkies, many of whom turned out for the event.
“I’ve eaten at Pete’s forever. I love this place. I’ll do whatever I can to support it,” Smith said.
Pete’s offers an old-fashioned drive up and eat in your car experience, with carhop service and optional outdoor tables for summer diners. It’s been around since 1965, but for the past 2.5 years it’s been owned by Darrell and Andrea Orth.
Its specialty is a bacon cheeseburger that Andrea Orth said is made with 100 percent beef patties crafted from ground steak trimmings. Darrell Orth said those make up about a third of the restaurant’s orders.
The Orths hope to reopen the restaurant in March, but the damage is extensive. Andrea Orth said she’s just grateful the restaurant was empty when the accident occurred, since anyone inside would likely have been killed.
“We’re just really happy no one was in the building. We’re closed on Sundays, and God blessed that,” she said.
The accident tore out a wall, mangled kitchen appliances and covered the front patio tables with cooking oil. Andrea Orth said she had been cleaning up the oil mess yesterday.
She said it was great to see the turnout at the event, which was organized by Brett Parrett and the Cruise for a Cause organization. She was amazed that so many people had brought out their cars during the winter, when they’re usually stored away.
“I think it’s going awesome. We’re really excited,” she said.
Darrell Orth said the party atmosphere felt good.
“It’s good to have some fun. It’s just been a stressful week,” he said.