I received a note from John Salyer saying that my recent Dutch Maid Drive-In column made no mention of his family’s involvement with the restaurant. Mr. Salyer agreed to help me with a follow-up column.
He sent me some written material about the restaurant and asked artist Jerry Honeycutt (“Cruising Down Memory Lane”) to furnish me with some old photos including his wonderful painting of the establishment. The image shows incredible detail including many old cars from the mid 1940s to the late 1950s.
According to John: “My mother and father, John Kent and Dottie Salyer, moved to Elizabethton from Kingsport in 1951 and purchased the Dixie Maid. In 1954, they built a restaurant in Johnson City on property owned by Dayton Pierce. The Dixie Maid was renamed Dutch Maid #1 and the Johnson City location became Dutch Maid #2.”
John said that in its heyday the Elizabethton store featured Curly White, a local WBEJ disc jockey, playing records over the air from the top of the restaurant. Carhops would routinely bring him requests to play records for customers.
Salyer went on to say that his family formed a partnership with Otto Burgner at the Johnson City store. His mother recalled that they introduced pizza to the local area after Otto returned from a trip to Chicago with the unique concept. The co-owner had a reputation for handling rowdy customers. Once, a man on leave from the Navy got into a scuffle with two other fellows. Otto abruptly picked up the Navy man by the nape of his neck and seat of his pants and tossed him into the back seat of a convertible that was cruising by the establishment.
John sent me an eat-in menu from probably about 1980 that showed food categories of Eggs & Omelettes, Wheat Cakes, Biscuits & Gravy, Cereals & Toast, Sandwiches, Side Orders, Flavor Crisp Chicken (with Jo Jo Potatoes), Steaks & Chops, Seafood, Salads and Soup.
For breakfast, one egg with potato cake or grits, hot biscuit, cream gravy, butter and jelly and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage cost $2. Three wheat cakes went for $1.75. A quarter-pound jumbo hamburger was $1.25 with $.50 extra for fries.
Attached to the menu was a “Daily Menu for the Week” page showing nine items including Country Style Fried Steak and Gravy ($2.75), Grilled Ham Steak with Pineapple ($3.75) and a Rib Eye Steak ($4.00). The daily specials were $2.50 each: Monday, Pepper Steak; Tuesday, Braised Beef Tips; Wednesday, Meat Loaf; Thursday, Roast Pork and Dressing; and Friday, Grilled Liver and Onions. The daily and special items included a side order of two vegetables.
An analysis of the old restaurant photo really brought back some memories for me. Several ads were visible on the glass window: “Try a Tally Ho, The Sandwich That Melts in Your Mouth; Dip Top Ice Cream Cone; Banana Split; Dutch Ice Cream; Do I Smell Pizza-Burger?; Take a Pizza Home; and We Bake Our Own Pies.”
A portable sign along the front says “Original Crispy Pizza Baked Fresh to Your Order?” There were two service windows along the front with the one on the left having a fan above it. A speakerphone can be seen suspended from the overhang on the right. I also noticed that my former late neighbor, James Hensley, fabricated the large sign on the roof.
Writing this column evoked some very pleasant culinary feelings for me from the Dutch Maid Drive-In. I only wish this restaurant were still around today so I could go there right now and fetch me a plate of their scrumptious liver and onions. Yum! Yum!