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A & W: The Hot Rod of Restaurants

Fri, Apr 26th, 2013
Posted in Spring Valley Features

By Jason Sethre

The Spring Valley A & W Drive-in is rich with history tied to food, fun, and hot rods dating back to 1956 when the original owners Roger and Marge Simpson brought this restaurant to life in the small rural farming community.

Back when Elvis Presley’s first film, Love Me Tender, hit the big screen, the A & W Drive-in of Spring Valley was the scene of some of the most sought-after hot rods ever to hit the streets. And, that tradition continues today with what the A & W Drive-in has coined “Cruise Nite,” held annually on the third Thursday in August. Now in its 17th consecutive year, this event attracts over 300 classic cars along with even more enthusiasts. Not everyone can be so lucky to own the classic car of their dreams, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stop by the A & W Drive-in of Spring Valley and vicariously enjoy vehicles from an era that inspired movies like American Graffiti.

When second generation owners, Mark and Kathy Simpson, started the “Cruise Nite” event back in 1997, they attracted statewide and even national attention. As a matter of fact, many other A & W Drive-ins throughout the United States have attempted to duplicate the successes of what the Simpsons have accomplished in Spring Valley. The Simpsons continue to present another reason for tourists to swing through Spring Valley as they travel through Historic Bluff Country.

And, on top of the classic car show that the Spring Valley A & W Drive-in hosts each year, they serve up outstanding food alongside the world famous A & W Root Beer that’s so good even Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli would give two thumbs up and a prolonged “Hey!” Some of you may be too young to understand who these TV show icons were from our American pop culture history, and that’s OK. All you’ll have to do is stop by the A & W Drive-in for a walk down memory lane. You’ll be enlightened and impressed with the craftsmanship of a time when vehicles were built to last. Those heavy boats on the road were like tanks, and that’s why many of them are still running strong today.

While many restaurants strive to differentiate themselves with their menu or atmosphere, the A & W Drive-in of Spring Valley has turned into a tourism destination. With fewer classic cars on the road these days, they have become a historic dining attraction. When somebody sees a shiny red 1958 Chevy Impala in showroom condition driving down Highway 63, they can’t avoid but to take a second look.

And, if you follow that Impala, chances are likely that they are on their way to the A & W Drive-in of Spring Valley. For more information about the A & W Drive-in, you can visit www.awesomeawdrivein.com or just swing through Spring Valley, Minn.

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