THE MAIN DRIVE IN — Connie and Jeff Sutherland stand proud in front of their 50s style drive in that continues to cater to the sweet tooth of many season after season. The Main Drive In has been part of Conrad for 55 years. I-O Photo by Deanna Wakkinen
By Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter
From a town rich on values and community comes our ‘Spotlight on Business’ which highlights a business, gives emphasis on their contributions to our community and remembers their history.
Not to be known as a thing of the past lays the Main Drive In which is virtually unchanged since it was built in 1956 by Marvin and Lucille Young.
Nestled inside today is much of the same original equipment. A one-of-a-kind freezer from Anheuser-Busch is still in use.
The business was bought in 1977 by Pike and Doris Sutherland and so became the famous Pike’s Burger. Pike and Doris were the owners until they sold it to their son Jeff and his wife Connie, who are the current owners, in 1990.
The Main Drive In offers a large menu for it’s small size and is the local hotspot come warmer weather. The Main Drive In isn’t only seen by locals however, it has been visited by a movie filming crew and has been in the background of many flashbulbs in it’s time. Drive ins around the nation continue to fade away but the Main Drive In of Conrad isn’t going anywhere. Still in full 50’s style with the car hops to serve you, the Main Drive In also offers the largest dip cone selection in the state.
Jeff and Connie Sutherland were Conrad born and raised and continue to love living in our small community. Jeff commented that Conrad is “quiet and safe” and Connie added, “it’s home.” They have raised two daughters who have been working within the Main Drive In since they entered the 6th grade. Now both in college and on their career paths, the question is, will it stay in the family for another generation?
The Main Drive In has been a stepping stone for many young women and Connie comments that the business had such an impact on many that they continue to stop by to see them each season. The Main Drive In currently employs 12 to 15 people with Jeff running the kitchen sun up to sun down.
Connie commented that the time may be nearing for retirement but their current sights are to finish out this season and prepare for the next.
There will be a special Cruise Day at the Main Drive In on it’s last day of the season which is Sept. 10. From Great Falls, 30-40 classic cars will be arriving to enjoy burgers at the cost of the year of their vehicle. For example, if you drive a 1925 Model T, your hamburger will cost you 25 cents. If you drive a 2010 model, your burger will cost $1.10. Jeff plans to have the whole crew on hand, especially since in a previous year, they served 67 classic cars.
The Main Drive In is proud to sponsor events in Conrad like Ag Days, the Youth Rodeo and gymnastics just to name a few. The Main Drive In is part of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce and was part of the recent SCORE tour through Conrad.