In 1931, Homer McKelvey opened a root beer stand in Leavenworth. He soon expanded the menu to include food.
Since then, the business at 1320 S. Fourth St. has been an institution in the First City of Kansas.
Rick Jackson, current owner of the restaurant, said Homer’s Drive Inn is the oldest restaurant in Leavenworth – and one of the oldest in the state of Kansas.
“Homer’s is pretty special for Leavenworth,” Jackson said.
The venerable establishment will celebrate its 86th birthday Friday night.
Jackson said approximately 100 cars, trucks and motorcycles will participate in a show at the restaurant from 5-8 p.m.
He said Linn Street to the south of the restaurant will be closed during the event. The alley north of the restaurant also will be closed.
The restaurant has room inside for 36 patrons, but waitresses will be outside of the restaurant taking orders and serving food.
There is no admission fee but food will be available to purchase.
People who have a car, truck or motorcycle in the show will be given a coupon for a free hamburger and fries.
Jackson said a disc jockey will be at the event playing music.
Anna Brown has been the manager at Homer’s for 30 years. She said the restaurant has loyal customers.
“I have one man who I have served for more than 25 years,” Brown said. “I have watched a lot of little babies grow up in this restaurant.”
Brown said new menu items have been added recently to include ham and beans and meatloaf. But several items have always been on the menu – hamburgers, chili, malts, shakes and old-fashioned soda.
“Those are the (menu items) that people want. That’s what Homer’s is famous for,” she said.
The restaurant is open for business from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week.