by Mary Cokenour
In the early 1950s, A&W opened two franchises. One in Blanding, the other in Monticello. While Monticello’s franchise went bust due to lack of business, Blanding’s was booming, so much so that the owner decided to cut ties with A&W.
In 1959, Patio Drive-in was born, and while it has changed hands countless times, it has remained an iconic restaurant in Blanding.
I first met current owners Lana and Ricky Arthur in 2015, but they have owned the Patio since 2009.
The concept for the food at the Patio has, and always will be—“We are not a fast food restaurant.” No, it’s a good food restaurant with proud owners and employees.
On Dec. 3, 2018, the grand re-opening of the newly remodeled Patio took place with the community support displayed, evidenced by the pride locals showed braving the cold to be a part of the latest grand opening.
As we all gathered inside to say hello to Lana, Ricky, their employees, friends, and neighbors, the swell of excited anticipation could be felt building.
Lana got her ribbon cutting scissors, borrowed from a local flower shop.
Outside of the new entrance of the newly built dining area we followed, standing together while Lana, Ricky, and Lana’s mom smiled at us.
Not being too fond of making speeches, Ricky let Lana do all the talking, just like a good husband should. Lana’s voice cracked, her eyes moist with emotion.
“I made it perfect for you. My goal theme, ‘Another 60 Years!’” Ricky said. “It opened in 1959….
It had a desperate need to be redone, and I knew I was the person privileged to do it and am grateful I was able to do it.”
Lana also thanked her mom for all the support she has given them in so many ways, and it just couldn’t have all been done without her. She cut the ribbon while being hugged and kissed by Ricky. We all cheered, and then someboady said, “Come on it and eat!”
While many of us strolled around checking out the new décor, reupholstered bench seats, and upgraded kitchen, there was Robert Turk at the register, the Patio’s first customer of the day. He he had his priorities correct. Food first, then stroll it off afterwards.
While the collection of license plates paneled one wall, another wall held a special memorial for local hero Jason Workman.
Of course I had to check out the kitchen first and drool over the professional stove/oven/grill and deep fryer.
Ah, but I was not alone in my venture. Along with hubby, Roy, San Juan County was represented by Natalie Randall and Andy Platt from the Economic Development and Tourism office and Bayley Hedglin of the Chamber of Commerce. We all know where the good food is!
Still sourcing as local as possible, Patio’s burgers come from a coalition of ranchers in nearby Colorado. No more frozen burgers that needed to be marinated in au jus before grilling to perfection. Oh no. Now it’s fresh, and we all know fresh is best.
This brings me to a menu item reserved just for locals. It won’t be listed on the menu board, but we can order it any time we want.
I am speaking about…The Houston, that specialty burger developed by former employee, Dallas Hall. A juicy bacon cheeseburger on grilled bread, topped with Swiss and cheddar cheeses, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo.
Roy ordered the Big B, but added toppings of made-fresh-on-the-grill mushrooms and onions. Oh, you can taste the difference of freshly grilled.
My choice was the Chicken Ham and Swiss. The chicken tenders were awesomely crispy on the outside, with tender, juicy chicken within. With all the toppings, this sandwich requires two hands.
Who am I kidding? All the sandwiches at Patio require two hands and there are no regrets.
Ordering the combos, we both love those curly fries, more like waves of potatoes, deep fried, full of fluffy potato goodness and so yummy.
There are 32 ounce fountain drinks that come with combos and Utah’s all-time favorite, fry sauce, to go with your choice of potato side.
We were so stuffed. Ordering shakes or ice cream cones will just have to wait for a return visit – a soon to occur return visit.
By the way, Patio may contain two dining areas inside now, but they are still servicing customers with a drive up window. What I’d like to know is, how can anyone drive when needing two hands to eat one of Patio’s burgers?
“Another 60 years” is a concept that speaks about love of a business, love for a community, and a future full of hope and the fulfillment of dreams.
Patio Drive-in is located at 95 North Grayson Pkwy (Hwy 191) in Blanding. 435-678-2177, patiodiner.com/