Take a step into Super Freeze at 6865 Erie Road in Derby and you'll take a step back in time to the 1950s - a decade of music, cars and television.
And that's exactly what owner George Williams envisioned when taking over the old Woodbine Inn, in 1987, from his family, where Super Freeze now stands. Williams is a drag racer and collector at heart, the restaurant serves as a display case for his impressive collection of antiques. By running Super Freeze (open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. every day this summer), he's sharing his love for 1950s pop culture with loyal customers and newcomers who travel to see it all.
Question: How did you come up with the concept for Super Freeze?
Williams: I always thought it would be cool to own a '50s diner. I always had a passion for it. To have something like this was a dream. The '50s stuff is in my blood from back when I grew up.
Q: Where did you get this huge collection of memorabilia?
A: My friends, collectors, I go to car swaps and meets and there's eBay. I collect wherever I go. If I see it, I zero in on it. It could be an old coffee can. It gets to be a disease! Last week, I bought a 1959 Dodge up in Canada. This week, I bought a vintage motorbike. I gotta stay off the internet!
Q: What kind of reaction do you get from customers at Super Freeze?
A: When they walk in, they light up like a Christmas tree. It takes everybody back in time. They point at it and say, "Remember when we had that?" People come in and reminisce. Old timers come in. People stop by and take pictures even before we're open. We have Super Man on the roof. We have the Muffler Man.
Q: From how far away do you draw customers?
A: I'm in Roadside America, the book. People come by, they chase these things down, I had one come from California. And Jay Leno stopped in last year. I was in Pennsylvania at a car swap and I missed him. Jim Sandoro (from the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum) brought him by. All the employees took pictures with him. I wish I was here.
Q: What would you say is your favorite piece of memorabilia?
A: The jukebox. It's an original '57 Seeburg. They made the model for one year only with the fins on it. People play it and sometimes older couples will start dancing.
Q: How do you try to match menu items with the 50's theme?
A: We have a Fonzie burger and a Betty Boop beef on weck. I make my own beef on weck back from my bar days. We have fish fries on Friday nights. I'm serving Lakeside Market sausage and it's been a home run for me. Of course, burgers and fries. And the Perry's ice cream!
Q: How do you attract young people with the nostalgic theme?
A: I've made it to where the kids have to come here. The neon lights, the games, it's great. I love it. I'll take 100 screaming kids over a bar. Like my sign says, I'm lost in the 50s. And that's where I want to be.