“Dixie Cheese, half-and-half! Sweet tea, fried chicken white meat! Chuck wagon!”
Customers of a longtime diner in Greenwood will have to wait to hear those familiar sounds again.
Dixie Drive-In closed the doors of its 600 Montague Ave. permanently on Monday. But, the Greenwood staple is not done serving Dixie Cheese.
“When God closes one door, he opens another,” said Gigi Kerhoulas Huskey, co-owner of Dixie Drive-In.
Huskey said the restaurant has been in negotiations with the owners of the property but communications stopped.
“Obviously, we can’t come to an agreement and it’s time for us to move,” Huskey said. “We’re not going to quit. We are just going to move.”
Huskey declined to provide who the owners of the property are and research into the property provided limited information.
Dixie Drive-In opened its doors in 1959. Pete Kerhoulas, who emigrated from Greece, bought the business and its name from the original owners in 1974. A few years later, Pete brought his brother, Perry, on as a partner and the restaurant has been in the Kerhoulas family ever since.
Huskey and her cousin and co-owner, George Kerhoulas, took over the restaurant in 2011. George had previously owned the Caravan on South Main Street but closed it when he became a co-owner of the Dixie.
Huskey and Kerhoulas had fond memories of working at the Dixie Drive-In. Huskey started working for her uncles while she was in high school. She said there were too many memories to name.
Kerhoulas said he has enjoyed it when people who grew up in Greenwood but moved away return to the area to see family and stop by the restaurant.
“They are excited to come back to the Dixie,” Kerhoulas said.
Dixie Drive-In has also seen its share of difficulties this year with the novel coronavirus pandemic. When restaurants forced to close dine-in operations in March, the Dixie tried to innovate its approach and bring back the old style carhop operation.
“Nowadays you have debit cards, credit card transactions,” Kerhoulas said. “I think that complicated matters a little bit too.”
The restaurant has been operating its own form of drive-thru for the last few months.
Over the years, the Kerhoulas name has been associated with a number of restaurants in Greenwood in addition to the Dixie. The Ranch House, Caravan and Dairy Barn were all owned by a Kerhoulas.
“The Kerhoulas family loves serving food and serving the community,” Huskey said.
Huskey said they plan to reopen at a new location within the next two months. While the new location has not been selected yet, Huskey said they are narrowing their choices.
Huskey and Kerhoulas only plan to change location and intend to keep the same diner feel, ordering system, menu and the same employees, some of whom have worked at the restaurant since it opened.
“Same name, just a different location,” Huskey said.