Oldest dairy bar in county mixes classics with the new

Last updated: August 07. 2014 4:55PM - 856 Views
By Paul Hannah phannah@civitasmedia.com

Hungry patrons wait for their orders outside Reid's Dairy Bar during the evening hours.
Hungry patrons wait for their orders outside Reid's Dairy Bar during the evening hours.
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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles on dairy bars throughout Adams County - sources of pride for many in the communities they serve.

It can be hard to figure out the history of dairy bars in Adams County. Several of them opened back in the ’50s, and all have a revered spot in the memory of locals. However, Reid’s Dairy Bar, formerly S & S Dairy Bar and originally a Tastee-Freez, claims to be the oldest in the county, opening in 1952, and possibly the oldest in the state. The Tastee-Freez brand itself had just been established in 1950, so it is certainly feasible that it was the first in the state.

Reid’s Dairy Bar is located at the corner of Tri-County Road and North East Street in Winchester. The Dairy Bar was built by Roy Cropper, who, according to a devoted patron, decided to open the dairy bar after seeing one in Florida, where he vacationed with his wife every year.

The Cropper family owned the building for some time, before several other owners came to run the dairy bar. Eventually the dairy bar came into the possession of Sherry Young who sold it to Melissa Hupp. Hupp now owns Crossroads Dairy Bar in Seaman, and decided she didn’t want to try to run two dairy bars at once, so she put S & S Dairy Bar on the market.

The Reid family purchased the dairy bar from Hupp in 2011 and changed the name to Reid’s Dairy Bar. One can typically find Jasmine Reid, formerly a dental assistant, working the grill, and, when she is not in class, her daughter Reannen Reid taking orders at one of the windows. Brian Reid waterproofs basements as a career, but he still manages to find time to help out here and there.

Hupp’s legacy lives on at Reid’s Dairy bar, as they use Hupp’s coney sauce for their hot dogs and footlongs. The recipe for the sauce came with the building, much to the delight of the local patrons. Suffice to say it is just as delicious.

When first asked if they were known for anything in particular, the staff and Jasmine didn’t think they were with Jasmine saying, “It’s funny about a place like this. There’s not one particular thing that we sell the most of.”

After a brief pause, Jasmine added, “The Double Donut Burger. That’s the new thing. They have really went over well. We started them last year, and this year they have really caught on.”

The Double Donut Burger is what is known as a ‘Luther burger,’ so named because R&B singer and producer Luther Vandross is credited with inventing it, when he ran out of buns and used donuts instead. The Double Donut Burger consists of two beef patties, cheese, and bacon with a grilled donut as the bun.

Another item that Jasmine noted as being popular is their fishtail sandwich. Hupp at Crossroads had noted fishtails as being popular in our article for Crossroads, so perhaps Adams County has a never before documented love of fish sandwiches, or maybe the dairy bars just make a fantastic fishtail.

As the discussion continued, Jasmine noted that she purchases some of her products from the Amish. All of the tomatoes and onions that Reid’s Dairy Bar uses come from the Amish produce stand on state Route 136 at Sugar Tree Ridge, while they are in season, and the donut buns used for the Double Donut Burger are made by Keim’s Family Market.

Reid’s Dairy Bar is open year around with a two week break around Christmas. The hours of the restaurant are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the warm months, and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the colder months. The dairy bar is closed on Sundays.

The busiest months for Reid’s are April and May, similar to Crossroads and Locust Grove. Though, unlike Crossroads and Locust Grove, Jasmine reports that children are frequent diners, especially during the summer.

“There isn’t much to eat in this area, and we’re in the middle of a residential area,” Jasmine said. “It’s easier to come here to eat than to walk all the way to the gas station next to 32.”

With the interview finished, it was time for my taste-testers and I to focus on the tasty task before us. We, of course, had to order a footlong with sauce and cheese, since we had done so at every dairy bar thus far, and we found that the sauce was indeed Hupp’s delicious recipe.

One of the diners is related to the Cropper family and decided to try The Big Crop, named after the founder of the dairy bar. The Big Crop is a double-decker similar to a Big Boy sandwich, and Reid’s Dairy Bar uses a homemade tartar sauce. Jasmine doesn’t know if it is the same sauce that Roy Cropper used, but it too came with the building.

The Big Crop had meaty beef patties and a thick-sliced, locally-grown tomato in the middle. Many in the group said it was probably their favorite, when they tried a bite. Considering how delicious the other burgers were, this was quite an accomplishment.

The Double Donut Burger didn’t have what one first imagines when discussing donuts. There was no hole in the middle, and the donut was flat on the top and bottom, letting them grill both sides of each half. The juicy, beef flavor and cheese mixed well with the sweetness of the donut glaze. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at how good it was; though, many noted that they now felt the need to run a marathon to work off the calories.

One of our number also order a pizza burger, a first for the group, and at Jasmine’s suggestion, they ordered it “Sam Style.” We discovered that this was named after Sam McClellan who once owned the second dairy bar in Seaman. A Sam Style pizza burger comes with one patty, pizza sauce, onions, Parmesan, and American cheese, and it very nearly bested the Big Crop for best sandwich status.

For dessert, our group had a chocolate shake, a Butterfinger flurry, and the seasonal strawberry shortcake. The shake was extremely chocolatey with the diner speculating that both chocolate ice cream and chocolate milk were used in its creation. It was a smoother shake rather than thick, allowing the consumer to drink it down without needing to stir occasionally.

The Butterfinger flurry passed the ‘flurry test,’ having a large amount of butterfinger pieces, consistently mixed through the entire flurry, and reaching all the way to the bottom of the cup. Nothing is more disappointing than eating a flurry and discovering that the pieces stop halfway down. Dairy Queen is a frequent offender of this rule, so we were happy to see that Reid’s does it right.

Finally, the strawberry shortcake was the favorite of the group in the dessert category. It was similar in design to a hot fudge cake with a huge dollop of scooped ice cream sandwiched between two halves of angel food cake and a wonderful strawberry syrup with actual pieces of strawberry poured over the top. Topped with nuts and whipped cream, the cake barely fit inside its container. The group stated that everyone needs to try one before the season ends.

As we were finished up the experience, a passing patron commented that it was “the best food in town,” and we could certainly see why. Jasmine says that it wasn’t quite what she expected, when she got into it.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” Jasmine said. “But I would definitely do it again. I enjoy the work, and I love seeing all of the people, who stop by.”

If you plan to go, make sure to bring cash or credit cards, as they do not accept checks. They are particularly busy during lunch time and on Friday evenings, so you may consider calling an order in at 937-695-8019.

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