John Renock of Galion, Ohio, sent some photos about his favorite Lincoln Highway chicken barbecue stand. During the summer, it’s along the westbound lanes of US 30 west of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, very close to Idewild Park. The stand is in the lot of a closed dairy drive-in across from the Driftwood Inn (known for it’s 1950s signs).
John says it’s been a weekend adventure for a number of years to go on a Sunday drive from Ohio to travel back to his nearby hometown and to get barbecued chicken. In the photo above, that’s Mike Hocker (Executive Director of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway) in the green shorts/white shirt standing in line.
The gentleman who owned the soft ice cream stand found out he could earn as much doing chicken every Sunday Memorial Day through mid-October as working a weekly schedule selling ice cream etc. So he closed the ice cream store and uses the cooler, etc. to support the barbecue built on the western edge of the parking lot. I believe he is helped by a brother and brother-in-law. Didn’t take serious notes when I interviewed him the first time. He is sort of gruff. Stands at the end of the barbecue pit and takes your order.
As the chicken halves are pulled off the grill, they are placed in large, covered roasting pans near the serving area. They steep in the steamy juices for an hour or so before they are pulled from the roaster, dropped onto precut sheets of aluminum foil, methodically wrapped and deftly dropped into a paper sack. Pop is kept cool in ice water in a 50’s vintage pop cooler. Cole slaw is available, too.
Be ready to speak up when it is your turn as the guy has a line of people to serve and gets a little grumpy if you hem and haw. Just put us in mind of the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. They start the charcoal pit around 6 a.m. on Sunday and serve until all is sold. We estimated about 750 to 1,000 half chickens on a given day. (He wouldn’t say). Then you can find a spot on a nearby shade tree picnic table maintained on the proper tyand enjoy your prize. Melt in your mouth chicken! When we first went there in ’97 it was about $3 a half. Last time it was $4.25.