On a breezy summer day, you can hear the numbers being carried to your ears by the wind within a mile or two of the brown-striped building. Vinny’s Drive-In is a local landmark in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. For 44 years, Vinny’s has been a summer staple for local residents, offering feel-good food and their famous ice cream creations.
The hexagonally-shaped structure that is Vinny’s Drive-In was built in 1967 on Connellsville Street, a strip of road connecting such surrounding towns as Uniontown and Connellsville. Vincent Weaver, 78, of Uniontown has owned the establishment since its opening and credits its locations to much of its success.
“We’re in one of those blink-and-you-can-miss-it towns, so we’re very thankful for customers who didn’t blink and decided to stop in,” Weaver said.
Just as the name suggests, there is no indoor seating at Vinny’s Drive-In, but rather just a few walk-up windows and lots of picnic tables scattered about the small patch of land surrounding the building. For this reason, Vinny’s has remained in seasonal operations since its start, meaning it is only open between the months of March and October. The unique little quirks of the establishment are truly what make the customer’s so intrigued after so many years.
“When Vinny’s opens, you know that summer isn’t far off,” says Juanita Pelligrino, 63, of Lemont Furnace.
Vinny’s Drive-In also owes a lot to their local clientele, who came together last June when a fire broke out, causing a great deal of damage to the building.
“We never had a doubt we’d re-open,” states Patrice Piwowar, head manager of the restaurant. “Our locals wouldn’t have let us. The community really rallied together to ensure we’d open again.” The store was back up and running just three months later and continued out the 2010 season.
Though Vinny’s Drive-In has many unique qualities, it’s truly the food that keeps everyone coming back time after time. With over 50 sandwiches and sides, there is something for everyone on their menu and they continue to add to their wide-variety of soft serve ice cream specialties. The french fries and ice cream Avalanches, their take on Dairy Queen’s Blizzard treat, are the most popular items.
“Their small fry consists of a brown paper bag filled to the top with crispy, crinkle-cut fries,” says Miranda Formantelli, 19, of Uniontown. “I’ve never even attempted a large fry.”