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Boardman's last drive-in restaurant now part of our past



Published: Thu, January 12, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

Heather Milligan was among the nearly 300 people who crowded in and around the Boardman A&W restaurant Wednesday as everything in the eatery was auctioned.

  A&W final Auction

It’s been a long ride for the A&W restaurant on the corner of U.S. Route 224 and West Boulevard.
Customers jammed the eatery last month before it closed for good Dec. 31. 
Today, the restaurant known for its all-American food and car cruises was auctioned off, piece by piece. 
It’s a liquidation sale and as such, everything  — root-beer mugs, decorative 
license plates and equipment — must go.

It’s been a long ride for the A&W restaurant on the corner of U.S. Route 224 and West Boulevard. Customers jammed the eatery last month before it closed for good Dec. 31. Today, the restaurant known for its all-American food and car cruises was auctioned off, piece by piece. It’s a liquidation sale and as such, everything — root-beer mugs, decorative license plates and equipment — must go.

Milligan, 28, grew up nearby and frequently dined at A&W on the corner of U.S. Route 224 and West Boulevard.

“I would walk here,” she said.

Four years ago, she met Andy Varsho at the restaurant known for its all-American food and car cruises. They began dating and continued to visit A&W until the restaurant closed Dec. 31.

“We came the day it closed. We even felt the earthquake here,” said Varsho, 27, of Lisbon.

Later that night, he proposed. Milligan accepted.

“A&W has meant a lot to us. It was a big part of our relationship, and we’d like to get something with ‘A&W’ on it,” Varsho said.

The couple wanted the A&W clock, and Varsho, who said he was no stranger to auctions, came prepared to bid.

As the price rose higher and higher, Varsho conceded to a man who purchased the clock for $800.

In addition to the clock, Michael Simon, 63, of Poland, purchased an A&W gum-ball machine in the shape of a gas pump for $2,300.

“I neglected to get something for my granddaughters during the holidays,” said Simon, who said his son and granddaughters ate at A&W much more often than he did.

Of his competitor on the gum-ball bid, Simon said, “I feel bad. I know the guy.”

The guy was Phillip Naples, 56, of North Lima, who wanted nothing more than to bring that gum-ball machine home.

“I’m here looking for memorabilia. I came here every Friday for cruising, since the early ’70s,” Naples said.

Naples said he wouldn’t have pushed the price so high if he would have realized it was Simon but was confident he would leave with something.

Paul Basinger, owner of Basinger Auctions, called the auction with the flair of a circus ringleader, pausing only to pop a cough drop into his mouth.

He said the A&W auction generated the most hits online than any other auction his company has done. It was the memorabilia that brought so many people to the auction, he said.

Two specialized pieces, the fireplace hearth with surrounding counter and the neon blue “Shake, Rattle & Roll” sign, sold for $600 each.

“It’s a little emotional. This is a piece of history,” Basinger said.

A&W owner Rick Thompson said the auction, at times, was “tough to watch,” but he was amazed by the turnout.

“It’s unbelievable. It seems like people are more supportive now than they’ve ever been,” said Thompson as he signed auction catalogs. The restaurant was built in 1972.

Still, Thompson said he made the right decision to retire and said he wants to spend more time with his family. Plus, he did keep a few select pieces of memorabilia for himself.

Naples said the Boardman A&W will be missed. The restaurant is slated for demolition and will be replaced by an auto-parts store.

“I hate to see it go for an auto-parts store. I wish they could pick the whole thing up and move it somewhere else,” Naples said.


Comments

1bonblu(6 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

It could've been worse. I was afraid that another drug store was going to be built here. This is where I had my first date during high school back in the seventies. Good-bye A&W.

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2Bigben(1996 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you . Its sad to see it go but appropriate that an auto related store will replace it.

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3One_Who_Stayed(236 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Summit Racing Equipment should have opened a satellite store there.

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4briant(57 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

A big Blessing came out of this:
ANDY and HEATHER are getting married!

Peace from Florida

Brian

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5JoeFromHubbard(880 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I cruised around there a couple of times in my '68 Camaro SS 396. More importantly, I remember the Yeany family. Their homestead was located on that very spot.

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6Vicki(14 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

My family has been going to A&W since 1973, my 3 sons and all my grand children have been going there sice they were infants. We always had a great time at the Friday night cruises and always made sure we booked our spots when the Hot Rod Supernationals came to town, what a blast and good times to remember. Even once we sold our hot rod we continued to go to the cruises, everybody was always so polite and the people really enjoyed being there, Rick is one in a million, always walking around talking and laughing with everyone, we always stopped down at least a couple times a week just to chat and have our ice cold rootbeer in the MUG !!!! Sorry to see you go A&W, you will be missed, thanks for the memories.

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7southsidedave(4710 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The car shows there were legendary. My high school girlfriend and I went there almost every day after school.

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