J's Drive-In, a Morgan tradition

Wednesday , July 23, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

J’s Drive-In is back in Morgan with a new look, a fresh menu and a few lasting traditions.

“Originally, roughly 50 years ago, Jay Hopkin started this old drive-in and called it Jay’s,” said manager Kyle Thackeray, of Morgan.

Later, Hopkin’s daughter took over ownership, renaming it Steph’s. Near the end of 2013, Morgan residents Blane and Janae Smith purchased the property.

The Smiths own 16 Pretzelmakers franchises, including the one right next door to the drive-in.

As their first item of business, the Smiths shut down the restaurant and remodeled it completely. It reopened in May 2014 as J’s Drive-In – a throwback to the restaurant’s roots.

The Smiths’ daughter, Jessica, and her husband Kyle Thackeray, run the business.

“It is a staple of Morgan,” Kyle Thackeray said. “There is new ownership now, but we are trying to build on tradition and give the customers of Morgan a great place to eat.”

The interior has been given a face-lift.

“Because the building was so old, we basically redid everything except the four exterior walls,” Thackeray said. “It is more open now, so you can see in the kitchen area. Everything is stainless steel and we have nice tile throughout. It is kind of modern, but our uniforms and menu board design are old-school.”

Along with the redesign, the menu items have changed. The old menu had “awesome food and lots of specialty burgers,” Thackeray said, but the owners simplified it to provide lower prices and faster service.

“Our sign says ‘Burgers, Fries and Shakes.’ We also have great chicken, salads and chili,” Thackeray said.

The Double J ($3.50) is a big seller, made with two beef patties, two slices of cheese, special “J” sauce, lettuce and tomato. Onions and pickles are available upon request, and diners can customize their burger further by adding bacon ($1) or a hot dog sliced lengthwise ($1).

The operation makes its own chili for items like the chili dog with cheese ($2.95) and chili cheese fries ($2.95).

“People really like our food. Our ice cream is also a hit. Our sodas are popular because they stay so cold in our insulated cups and we also have pellet ice,” Thackeray said.

Specialty sodas include a lime rickey ($3), made with Sprite, grape syrup and lime flavoring, and dirty sodas ($3), made by adding coconut and lime syrup.

J’s Drive-In shakes ($2.95-$3.95) are available in more than a dozen flavors, such as banana, strawberry, Oreo, grasshopper and cookie dough, with no extra charge to combine multiple flavors.

One item on the menu that didn’t change is the Tangee (94 cents), made with an ice cream base and flavored syrup.

“It’s kind of a special recipe that we have,” Thackeray said. “There is one flavor each week and it changes on Wednesdays.”

There are about 15 varieties of the time-tested menu favorite, including orange, grape, tiger’s blood, cherry-lime, mango and peach. The varieties rotate on the menu.

“That is one of the most popular things,” Thackeray said. “People love it. It goes back a long ways.”

J’s Drive-In

  • ADDRESS: 50 N. State St., Morgan
  • PHONE: 801-829-3665
  • HOURS: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Sign up for e-mail news updates.