Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on dairy bars throughout Adams County - sources of pride for many in the communities they serve.
The “dairy bar” is a regional novelty of the north-eastern United States. Elsewhere in the country they are named “ice cream stands.” Head overseas to the United Kingdom or Australia, and they’ll point you to a “milk bar” when you describe one of these establishments. Whatever they are called, though, all trace their lineage to the soda fountains and malt shops of yester-years, and, as connections to our culinary past, should be savored.
Crossroads Dairy Bar in Seaman, owned and operated by Melissa Hupp, is the first of these restaurants covered. It is a recent establishment, opening in 1989 to take advantage of the traffic the new state Route 32 would bring. Grover Taylor, a local teacher, constructed the dairy bar on land that he owned and was the first owner.
Hupp acquired Crossroads nine years ago in a Sheriff’s Sale. She was the owner and operator of the S & S Dairy Bar, now Reed’s Dairy Bar, in Winchester, before she sold it to focus on Crossroads. Hupp has kept things going strong at Crossroads, serving a steady stream of customers.
Crossroads is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday to Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. They never close for the season, staying open year-around with reduced hours in the winter months. They accept cash, check, and credit cards. Crossroads offers the standard dairy bar fare with hamburgers, foot-longs, walking tacos, ice cream, and milk shakes, but also a few unique items, such as chicken dinners, burritos, and pulled pork sandwiches.
What’s the best time to stop? You never know.
“Some days it can be slow. Other days people are parked down the road. You just never know. Just this past Thursday, we were already hopping by 10:30. This week it has been a little slower.”
Customers can call ahead with an order at (937) 386-0815 if they don’t want to take a chance on there being a crowd.
While dairy bars conjure up the mental image of teenagers gathered around the stand, enjoying ice cream or a bite to eat as they socialize, Hupp says that the majority of her clients are adults and young children. Sundays do see a lot of out-of-towners stop by, but it’s local patrons the rest of the week. The local Mennonite and Amish communities are also frequent patrons of Crossroads.
The dairy bar employs three to ten, depending on the season. A few adults and college students fill the main roles of the stand, while high schoolers round out the staff, filling in as needed. During the Fridays and Saturdays of the summer, four employees are filling the orders of hungry patrons. Even Hupp’s daughter, a mail carrier for the Seaman Post Office, can be found manning the grill inside at times.
Hupp says that Crossroads isn’t known for any one thing in particular, but, when she purchased Crossroads, her frequent diners requested that she keep the coney sauce that she was using at S & S Dairy Bar. An article on a dining establishment wouldn’t be complete without a food critique, so my fellow diners and I volunteered to taste-test.
The foot-long coney had a soft bun, and the hot dog itself was tender rather than chewy as some hot dogs can be. While the coney sauce had a beefy flavor, the sauce was tomato-oriented with a bit of sweetness and a subtle spiciness lingering in the background. After a few more bites, my group managed to pinpoint that it was bringing to mind a hint of barbecue sauce.
Next up was a cheeseburger, because one cannot avoid getting a cheeseburger at a dairy bar. Hupp’s daughter was working the grill when I ordered, and I must say she knows how to grill a hamburger. The patty had a wonderful sear on it without burning it. The bun was toasted as well with crisp lettuce and a wonderfully ripe tomato.
Other diners in the group tried the large fishtail sandwich, chicken tender sandwich, and shakes. None of the fried foods, including the onion rings, were greasy. The fishtail was twice the size of a fish sandwich one can purchase from most fast food restaurants. and the chicken tenders were cripsy and delicious. The shakes were very thick, which was a major plus for many of the diners, and the person enjoying the chocolate shake said it was very chocolaty.
One person had the wet burrito, which for $3.00 was a large, filling meal consisting of a beef burrito topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and nacho cheese.
We also tried a hot fudge cake and turtle sundae. The hand-dipped ice cream was smooth and creamy rather than hard like some ice cream can be. The hot fudge cake had a large single scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two fluffy cake halves, topped with hot fudge.
All in all, everyone was satisfied with their meals and the prices, and many said they would be coming back soon.