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The Eatbeat: Kegs Drive-in: A survivor on Grand Cities eating scene

Almost every high school class reunion includes a gathering at the Kegs Drive-in in Grand Forks. Old grads go back to remember the good times they had cruising the Kegs on summer evenings.

Almost every high school class reunion includes a gathering at the Kegs Drive-in in Grand Forks. Old grads go back to remember the good times they had cruising the Kegs on summer evenings.

And now, the Kegs is one of the few old-fashioned drive-ins still going. It's the last of its kind in Grand Forks. And the Kegs still serve sloppy Joes at reasonable rates and onion rings that are made in-house. The outdoor speaker system is still there on 14 stations, but it doesn't work two-way anymore. So, customers place their order and are served by "car hops" of 2008.

These carhops really hustle during rush hour. They often wear black or white Kegs shirts and a baseball hat on backward. No longer do you find car hops on roller skates or wearing poodle skirts, saddle shoes or black leather jackets and boots.

The Kegs is easy to find at 901 N. Fifth St. because of the two huge 20-foot-high root beer kegs connected with a kitchen area indoors.

It wouldn't be summer without a couple of trips there for lunch. On one such venture, I was visiting with Dean and Craig Gilbertson (DG and CG), who were sitting next to me in their pickup truck. They say they go to the Kegs quite a bit in the summer time because the food is good. CG likes the onion rings and says they are as close as you can get to the onion rings served by the old A & W Root Beer drive-in. And as for the Double Barrels, he says,"I love them." He was talking about the Double Barrel burger for $2.59. It's made with two ground beef patties on a triple-decker bun with lettuce, cheese and mayo.


DG was finishing off a steak sandwich with mushroom sauce ($3.09) and said the meat was really good.

The Kegs is indeed a folksy place. On a warm summer day, some people sit on the bench in front of the kitchen that is in between to huge kegs. The birds swoop down to pick up the crumbs, and people tend to visit.

I like the sloppy Joes, and you can get one for $1.49. Or you can get three for $3.79. A remarkable buy for this point in time, the "Joes" are on medium-sized buns and are really sloppy and good. And it takes all the extra paper you get them in to wipe the drippings off your chin. I find the onion rings quite good, too.

The coleslaw that comes with some combo dinners seems heavy with mayonnaise. I like coleslaw crisp with cabbage cut in small pieces and a light dressing.

My eating companions on one trip to the Kegs were granddaughter, Anne Sandstrom (AS), and her friend, Jozie Jagow (JJ). AS shuns burgers, so she ordered chicken strips. JJ is more into the Kegs, and she loves to order the sloppy Joes, rings and root beer.

AS had lemonade, which is very good and made from a frozen concentrate, these days when the price of fresh lemons is next to prohibitive.

The Kegs had a renovation a year ago, much to the delight of longtime customers. The barrels were repainted orange with brown trim to look more like they did in the "good old days."

When the place opened here, it was one of a chain of Kegs drive-ins of the 1930s, owned by the late Harry and Martha Muzzy, Crookston. They tried to create a Midwest version of A & W and had a string of barrel drive-ins in Devils Lake, Detroit Lakes, Dilworth and Wadena, Minn. The Grand Forks drive-in is the only one left. The second barrel in the drive-in here was brought to the Kegs from Wadena, Minn.


The Kegs now is owned and operated by sisters Laura Bergman and Becky Hanson. They bought the drive-in from Ken and Mary Amiot, Crookston, who purchased it in 1967 from the Muzzys.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or 701-772-1055.

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